Gone with the Wind
(A MORFS Universe Story)
‘Boring!’ The voice of the history teacher was putting me to sleep. It was such a soft and comforting voice that it alone might put many people to sleep. And the topic he was rambling about, medieval Europe, made us even sleepier.
I perked up as the intercom started its announcement tone. “Walter Hartman to the Principal’s office, Walter Hartman to the Principal’s office.”
I groaned, ‘Damn I hate my name, why couldn’t they have given me a cool name like my big brother Mack or even like my kid brother Remo. But nooo, I had to be named after a grandfather I never even knew.’
Slowly I got up, with the teacher’s eye urging me to hurry up so he could continue torturing the rest of the class. I was relieved to be out of that classroom, but why was I called to the Principal’s office? All day long some students were called there and I’d hung out with most of them at one time or another.
I got to the office and the secretary opened the door for me before motioning me to get in right away. ‘That isn’t encouraging.’
Two men in suits were with Principle Lassiter. He introduced them as Detectives Meshinger and Davies. As soon as I was seated, they sat in front of me. One of them asked, “Mr. Hartman, What do you know about Marjorie Wise?”
I scowled, she was a girl that had turned into a badger hybrid a few weeks ago. I’d stayed away from her since it happened. it was too bad though, she had been a nice girl. While I was thinking I saw them eyeballing me as if they could pierce my thoughts. Coolly I said, “Sure, I knew her. She changed into an animal. What of it?”
Detective Meshinger rose a little, like he was going to do something to me. But his partner stopped him. Instead, Detective Meshinger growled, “She got raped, beaten almost to death and left out in the snow to die. That’s what!”
I squinted at the detectives, I had heard something about an attack on someone. But I didn’t know who or what. Instead I asked, “So?”
The detective Davies leaned over towards me, “So, talk to me boy. You and your friends tore her clothes off, tied her up, raped her and then left her to die.”
Hot tempered I responded, “I didn’t have anything to do with that.” And I meant it. I mean, I might tear her clothes off, I might even beat her, but not rape. And most certainly I wouldn’t leave her to die. Hey, I may be a bad boy and cruel, but even I have my limits.
Meshinger asked, “Any way to prove that Walter?” he said my name like an insult.
I calmed myself and coldly said, “This happened yesterday, right?” As they nodded, I continued, “Well yesterday I was in detention for making trouble in Ms. Porris’s class. You can check that.”
Detective Davies said, “We will, but we are talking to you now. So if you didn’t do it, how about your friends? Know anyone who would do such a thing? Would you do such a thing? Hmm?”
‘Actually I might help in some parts, but I wasn’t going to tell them. And I knew some guys that probably might do it.’ “Sorry haven’t got a clue. Besides, even if I did know, what kind of a friend would I be if I ratted on them?”
Detective Meshinger blew again, “A law abiding citizen, not a lowlife piece of scum that almost killed a young girl that just happened to have bad luck.”
My temper flared as well, “Bad luck? Getting MORFS is not bad luck. It’s punishment for the people who are bad. They should throw them out of this country!”
Now even Detective Davies looked angrily at me, “Getting MORFS isn’t punishment, it’s a sickness that lots of people can get. Even you can, young man.”
I wasn’t convinced of that, “I don’t think so. Now I told you what I know, or rather, what I don’t know. Can I go now?” I looked at them with a sneer.
With smoldering contempt the detectives dismissed me and began talking to the Principle about calling some other boys to come in. I stepped out of there, but didn’t return to my class.
Instead I decided to skip school the rest of the day. As I walked out of the school into the snowy outdoors, I saw some of my friends had decided to do the same. They were hanging out at the Burger Barn at the corner across the street and I went over to them.
“Hey Walt. They got you for questioning, too?”
I nodded, “They can’t touch me though, I was in detention. Any of you?”
The guys looked among themselves, but nobody admitted to having anything to do with the attack. I looked at them, I had a suspicion that at least Gary and Phil were among the group that had done it, but I really couldn’t say for sure. Instead we changed the topic and started chatting about normal school stuff and about the plans for the upcoming holidays. We were planning to make a big snow hut and have a snowball battle. Before I knew it, it was already getting late. School started to let out, so when he came out, I joined my kid brother Remo for our walk home.
Remo asked, “Walter, why did you get asked into the Principle’s office? Did you do something bad?”
Curtly I sneered, “No I didn’t do anything wrong. Some guys did something and they thought I was with them. But you know I was in detention yesterday.”
He tried to get some more answers out of me, but I didn’t talk anymore the rest of the long walk to our home. Normally we would take our bikes to school, but with the amount of snow already on the roads it was too dangerous for us to do so. At long last we reached our ancestral home, a mixed farm of cattle, sheep, some pigs and a few other animals. But a big part of the business was the fields of grain and other plant products.
“Boys! You’re late.”
Both Remo and I groaned, of course we were late. We had been walking. “Sorry Mom, we’ll get right on our chores.” Dad counted on us to take over a lot of the daily workload. He hadn’t even hired extra help for a few years now. We didn’t mind the work, in fact I liked doing some of the chores. That night Dad and Mom wanted to have a word with me. I guess the school had called them about today. They grilled me about it for half an hour, but I really didn’t have anything to do with it. They did ask me if I knew who was responsible, but I said I didn’t know.
As I went to bed I didn’t lie down to sleep right away, I lay down on the floor boards first with my ear pressed against the hole in the board. I listened to my parents talking.
I heard my Dad say, “Alida, I think Walter knows who did that terrible thing to that poor young girl. How can we get him to tell us or the police?”
“Now, now, Casey. I’m sure that he doesn’t really know. He may have serious suspicions about the boys responsible, but they must be friends of his as well. I’m not saying I condone that sort of behavior, but if he rats them out he will lose all his friends at school.”
“I don’t care if he doesn’t have a friend in the world. That kind of friends he can miss like a toothache. I really wanted to beat it out of him tonight, you know?”
“Yes Casey, I know. But really let’s take this calm and easy. He will see his error sooner or later and then he will tell us who he thinks did it. Now let’s go to bed, I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Ooh, lead the way girly.”
I stopped listening. ‘How gross, hearing your parents insinuating they are going to have sex. I knew they were going to do it. I heard the sounds sometimes. So they thought I would tell them someday? Well they might have to wait for a long time then.’
When I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep right away. I kept thinking about Marjorie. I had liked her a lot. But why did she have to change into such an abomination.
The next few days were uncomfortable at school, as everyone kept watching everyone. Now the whole school knew what had happened. It had been the main story in the local newspaper as well. The few MORFS survivors that we had at school kept close together with themselves. They were rather afraid that one of them might be next. We, on the other hand stayed far away from them, like they were infectious or something.
I tried chatting with one of the girls I liked, Bonny, but she turned away from me. Apparently she thought I’d had something to do with it as well. That really sucked. I released my frustrations during basketball practice. I even got benched as a penalty for a charging foul when I hit a defender in my overzealous try to score.
Finally we were free from school. It was nearing Christmas and with the snow predictions we were almost certain to have more snow days soon as well.
When I came in from doing my chores, mom asked me, “Walter, could you run up to the attic and get the ornaments for the tree? Your Dad will be home soon with the tree, and I want to start decorating right away.”
I was a bit puzzled. In the past she took the boxes with ornaments down herself. Only a few times when she was very busy had she asked us to do it. But she didn’t look too busy now. She must have guessed why I was wondering, as she explained, “I thought I saw some kind of animal in the attic. Since you are so good with animals, please get the boxes for me?”
Now she had me there, I was good with animals. Maybe because I really liked them. I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I like hybrids then? I considered them animals as well, right? Well, I can’t explain it.
So I went up to the attic with my flashlight and looked around. I didn’t see any animal, so I picked up the boxes. I already put one near the stairs when I saw it. A large squirrel was hiding between the boxes. Now that I took them away it became exposed. I reached out for the critter to catch it and take it out to the barn. However before I could get a good grip on it, it bit my hand and jumped away.
I yelled out in pain, and sucked on the wound before trying to chase the squirrel with my flashlight. I just managed to catch its tail in my light beam as it wrung itself through an impossibly small hole and disappeared.
I stumbled back down and went to the first aid cabinet. I wasn’t a wuss or something, but I knew that I needed to treat it well, or risk infections. Maybe I should go to the doc to get some tetanus shots, as well. Mom came out wondering about the ruckus and asked, “Show me your hand. I showed her my wound and she quickly put a bandage on it. Well I could have done it myself, but two hands work faster and better than one. And I only had one hand available to put on the bandage.
I checked the attic carefully for other hidden animals, but there were none there. I quickly took all the boxes down and put them ready for Mom. Moments later Dad came home with a fresh cut Christmas tree and we all got put to work to decorate it.
I did see Doc Lane the next day, and got a tetanus shot just to be safe and to have it checked after the holidays.
Christmas night came with the celebrating and good times, I was thinking that they all had forgotten about the whole hybrid bashing thing. My grandparents were supposed to come for Christmas, but they had already got snowed in. So we had just a family night with the four of us. My older brother Mack was still away in College, because he had to play football around New Years.
At Christmas morning I wanted to get out of bed early to look at my presents, but when I tried to rise, I immediately fell back down. I didn’t feel so hot. Or rather, I felt really hot, I decided I have a bit of a fever. I gritted my teeth, ‘Time for a second try.’ This time I got up okay. I decided not to show anything about my condition. Mom is very fussy when we do get sick. So I did my normal routine, though a few times I had to take it easier, I feigned being my normal self unpacking the gifts. Both Remo and I got the traditional gifts, sweaters and other clothes. But we also both got an Ecom. I was really happy with that. I knew it wasn’t the newest model, but this gadget would do just fine. Finally I had something equal to my friends at school and fit in right along with them.
Dad had another surprise for us, he already had been out to milk the cows and told us that it had snowed a lot during the night. We had to clear a new path to the barns and the road. Being the well brought up boys we are, we immediately got dressed for it and started our work. I was working alongside Remo and had trouble keeping up with him. ‘What is going on, normally I can outpace him by a mile.’ Even Remo started to notice, “Getting tired already Bro?”
I snarled back, “No of course not, you little creep. Now keep shoveling.” I did my best to out do him, but another couple of yards further I felt really sick. I threw up violently and then felt something else. I dropped the shovel and ran into the house. I barely made it in time to the toilet, before everything came pouring out.
When I finally came out of the toilet, Mom and Remo were waiting. I guess Dad was still busy. Mom felt my forehead, “You’re running a fever. Let’s get you to bed.”
I wanted to protest. I always put up a front of being strong, even when I was half dead from a sickness. But I knew that I couldn’t protest against Mom on this. Besides I didn’t feel like protesting. I felt worse than I ever had been before. I let them guide me to my bed and just fell down on it. Mom took my clothes off and sent Remo out to get my father.
I just managed to hear Mom tell him to get Doc Lane here, and to have him prepared, as she had suspected what was wrong with me. I didn’t quite hear what she suspected was wrong with me, and my befuddled mind didn’t have a clue. I was already unconscious when the doc finally arrived. They had to go by skidoo, as all the roads were closed by snowfall.
My parents told me later that while I was out of it, the doctor had performed some tests and soon confirmed their worst fear. I had MORFS. He gave mom the prescription sedatives and energy bars to feed me with, and then advised her to document the whole change, as some changes were so drastic that I would need changes in my registration at the county.
I woke up a few times, feeling like crap. And I didn’t really quite get what was happening with me. All I knew was that I had to eat some bad tasting bar and some pills. A few times I got put into the shower with someone holding me. And I could have sworn that they were using a blow-dryer to dry me off. ‘But I don’t have hair that long!’
After an undetermined time as far I knew, I woke up in the middle of the night again. I must have kicked away my blanket and covers as I began to feel cold. ‘But this time of winter I should be freezing already. Why am I only a bit cold? Did they put a heater in my room?’
I searched around me with my free hand to see if I could locate a blanket or something. My hand touched something warm, soft and seemingly made of fur. ‘Since when do I have a fur blanket?’ But I was still not fully awake so I just grabbed it and pulled it a bit over me to get warm. Strangely enough it was stuck a bit on my back side. ‘But I’m lying on my side. Maybe some corner is stuck under my side.’ I just pulled a bit more on it, but stopped when it started to hurt my lower back, like the blanket was kinda glued on me. I didn’t feel like looking at it, so I just pulled the blanket on top of me as much as I could and fell asleep again.
Later that morning I woke up feeling fine. Better than fine, no pain at all. No feelings of being sick. I felt refreshed and alive. Very much alive, I felt like jumping out of bed and run, jump and do lots of things. The blanket on top of me kinda moved and I remembered, ‘I have a fur blanket now?’ I looked at what was on top of me and saw a strange dark brown furry thing. I squeezed and I felt pain. ‘What the hell?’
Really waking up now, I sat up in my bed and looked at my body. That’s when I started screaming in a new, impossibly high voice, a really ear piercing scream I kept up for seconds till I fainted.
End of part one
To be continued...
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/