Written by Ordinary: reality overdoseFeatherdragoonChapter 1: First Turning
Inspired by Audie at
Normal. I used to think of myself as normal. Normality is a condition created by the insane and enforced by the falsely righteous. But I digress with personal troubles. For you to fully understand you must hear this from the beginning.
My life was what might be considered standard by many people: you get a house to live in, a job, maybe a cat. No one notices you and you like it just fine that way. My name was Adira back then; just an unimportant tidbit of the past now.
I had been walking home from my place of work. I can't remember where exactly, but that was when this whole ordeal took its first steps. My back began to ache inexplicably. At that time I had no idea why. I had done no heavy lifting and spent most of my day sitting or otherwise lounging, so I did what anyone else would do; I dismissed it. I didn't give it a second thought. I didn't know my back was changing. Growing. Hollowing. How was I to know?
Anyway, after a day or two the pain peaked and then diminished. I continued my life still blissfully unaware of my encroaching fate.
In the following days I had noticed that I couldn't floss my teeth. That somehow they had grown together. This had begun to panic me. My dentist told me some time back that I could expect some crowding, even for someone at my age, but so quickly? No. I knew something was wrong.
I called in sick to work the next day, every day that week. All of my bones had begun to ache terribly like my back had before. But instead of mild aching this was a full blown burning. I had already taken all the painkillers I could without risking overdose but the pain still persisted. I called the hospital and they put me under close watch there. When they hooked up the I.V. the pain had lessened. I thought it was from whatever it was they were pumping into me but instead it was the basic changes that had slowed.
My stay in the hospital was doing anything but making anything better. Horrible boils had broken out all over my body; the worst on the underside of my arms and back. This had made any kind of movement unbearable, along with my teeth feeling like they might burst from my face. Near my shoulder blades where I lay large welts almost the size of my arms began growing. My ears were also beginning to grow back into the sides of my head.
They had increased the drugs they were giving me and they still didn't stop the pain that had returned with reinforcements. The boils were getting worse and I couldn't lay one my back anymore because of the growths, which had grown increasingly large in size, becoming somewhat disconnected and looked somewhat like bald chicken wings under my skin.
I spent most of the time lapsing in and out of consciousness, but I heard the doctors outside my room, "I've never seen anything like this." They had said, "I don't think that she can survive very long like this". My mind had been reeling with this. Between the drugs, the pain, and the changes, there I was; caught in the middle of it all. Nowhere to run, no one to turn too. What was to become of me? All of my thoughts blurred. I couldn't concentrate on anything but the pain destroying who I was.
Then I began. My old self destroyed as the skin that was holding the bald wings in place tore and the bloody wings fell to my sides. The skin on my feet and hands turned tough and leathery, and my nails had hooked into talons.
Then feathers burst from the boils and took their place. They spread out all over my body, deep brown in colour and speckled white and black down my legs. I was paralyzed with pain as yellow tinted teeth pushed from my mouth and shoved back my nose as new nasal passages formed at the top of my hooked beak and took their place.
Foe the last few seconds my brain burned dully and then left me laying on my stomach with wings laying limply on either side of me and the rest of my body covered with blood speckled feathers.
I simply lay there in the hospital bed, in the middle of the night; breathing hard and listening to the noises of people out side of my room gradually diminish as they finished their business until silence took over. Then the sounds of footsteps carried to my room.
My vision was fading and I feared that unconsciousness would come to me again when a figure came into my room. I couldn't see who it was but it leaned over me and picked my light body up in its arms, and I said the first this I had said in days. "…What's happening…?" I said weakly, feeling my feathers brush up against what could only be more feathers, "who… are you…?" I tried again. This time he looked down at me down in his arms while we were walking through the blurry fluorescent-lit halls. "We've come to get you. You don't belong here anymore. You'll be fine." I could hardly complain or resist. Everything felt so dreamy. The last thing I can remember as being carried into the lobby where there were more figures like the one that was carrying me. There was some unintelligible conversation took place before I blacked out.
I woke up on something soft and sat up it felt like I was sitting on something hard. I still noticed my feathers and heavy wings that I found could be flexed and extended upon command. The room I was in was roughly furnished but still far from prison like.
Everything felt very surreal. My memories of that night came in sudden flashes. They took over my sight for instants and blasted me with their painful reminders of reality. I wasn't quite sure if I was dreaming. I noticed a large vanity mirror across the room so I slipped from the bed with determination to see the full of the changes. When my feet hit the floor I almost fell to the bed again. My feet wouldn't let me stand flatfooted but forced me to stand on broad toes instead. There had been more changes than I thought. When I gained enough confidence to try a few steps again I managed, with the help of the wall to get to the mirror. While I was still trying to commando it to the mirror I had realized why I had such poor balance—my wings were just hanging off my back as I had forgotten they were there. Folding them against my body brought a degree of comfort. Like being wrapped in a blanket. This drastically improved my balance issue and I managed to walk without the walls guidance and over to the mirror.
"Holy crap!" I thought as I took in the full view of the figure in front of me. "I look like a falcon!" The whole sight was somewhat invigorating. To know that something of such flawless beauty was in my direct control; my soft feathered body and breasts that was no longer speckled with blood, the tough skin on my hands and feet tipped with sharp hooked talons, a hard beak on my face, all topped by a pair of grand wings that I stretched in front of the mirror." The epitome of perfection." I thought in satisfaction. The one thing I noticed in the mirror while examining my face was that my eyes hadn't changed; they had changed place and proportion in accordance with my head, but the colour, the deep lime green hadn't changed.
Behind me in the mirror I noticed the door opening and I quickly turned to face the entering stranger. He closed the door behind him. I instantly remembered him as the one who carried me from the hospital. He must have noticed my stare. "So, you remember me that well, huh?" he said smoothly, "They had you so drugged up I'm surprised you remember anything." I was hardly listening. My eyes were so captivated with him. He was tall, only slightly taller than me, though he was standing flatfooted. He also had short red feathers that ended at his knees and elbows while mine ended at my hands and feet. " Am I really that spectacular?" He said and I quickly turned away in embarrassment. "No—uh, I mean… um—sorry, I—". He had put he hand on my shoulder in an attempt to consolidate me. His touch making me shiver. "Shhh…" He hissed soothingly, "It's all right, your still confused. Don't worry. You'll get used to this fairly quickly. To tell you the truth you've done quite well already. We've had some entries that have tried to kill themselves the moment they got here. They just couldn't take it." He removed his hand from my shoulder. "Oh!" he began again, Please forgive my manners. I am Tkita, and I'm sure that you have dozens of questions you need answered." Feeling obliged to use the opportunity I asked, " well, first off, where am I?" I gestured around the room.
"What? You mean the room or the building."
"They are both important questions but right now the building."
"Well, the room is, as you may have guessed, is a recovery room. You can certainly guess as to its purpose. And as for the building, that's a tougher one."
He walked over to a curtained window and drew the curtains. I walked beside and gasped at the view. "We must be 200 floors up!" I exclaimed.
"Pretty close." He said, 'More like 163. 170 if you want to count the floors in the basement."
"That's ridicules. How do you find your way around? And how many people are there here anyway?"
"Well, how we get around, you just sort of know where you need to go and then go and then it just works its way into your schedule and you just remember it. You'll get the hang of it in the first week or so." This made me wonder what it would be like during the fist week, but he continued, "And the second question; there are, at last count, around about 150 members in this facility."
"That many? All like me"
Sort of, I guess. All anthro avian, anyway, though some might think that there is way too much space for such few people, but I figure that by the time the new instincts kick in you'll enjoy having the extra space. All of us are not the same as you might think. Different coloured feathers mostly. Different shaped beaks; some pointed or hooked like yours. Some can fly and have wings and tails like you, though others like myself do not have that ability at their disposal."
"I have a tail?" I said surprised when I looked behind me to see the feathered outcrop, and not short feathers like the rest of my body, but long ridged feathers like those one my wings, which also explained the hard thing that I was sitting on when back on the bed. I tried and found that it could be folded and fanned on command. This also explained why I didn't notice it in the mirror. I turned back to Tkiti. "Is this the only place like this in the world, or are there more?"
"Oh, most certainly yes. This is just the one closest to the one where we picked up on you. There are dozens in this country alone. Even though there are these facilities there are probably thousands that cant stand being contained—most often the flyers. Though they put themselves into exile, some live around rural towns where even if they were seen no one would believe them. It's not for most, though. It's anything but easy. Most just choose to live among their own kid here."
"But, if were so numerous why does no one know we exist, even if we live in the largest building in the city?"
"Would you have believed we exist? How would you explain it to yourself? People couldn't cope so they choose to ignore us like this. The building is also intimidating as hell. No one would dare question something like this. We have no phone number, armed guards inside locked doors, two-way mirror windows, and passkeys to the elevators. Before we came to get you last week—"
"Last week! I've been out for a whole week?"
"Pretty much. For all the tests, they take a while. Now please let me continue. We have been keeping a close eye on your and everyone else's medical records. We have a specific department for that here which helps us to pick out any potential anthos from everyone else. Normally the leaking of personal information could not go undetected for long, so we provide specific important people with—erhm—'extra pocket change' in order to get them to turn a blind eye to our actions. Though I'm not sure where we get the money for that I'm sure that all of the payments are anonymous as to keep our direct identity unknown. And finally, and what I think you'll find most upsetting is since we cannot have people simply disappearing you, Adira H. Joseph are by all government standards dead." His tone took a depressing drop at that last word. Tears began to well in my eyes. It wasn't so much that my life would be forgotten, but that I knew it would make the people I knew suffer.
"Why does this happen?" I said with an uncertain waver in my voice, " What could do this; radiation, virus, government conspiracy? What?"
He didn't look like he wanted to answer that question, but with my increasing instability he told me anyway.
"This has always been able to happen. Ever since the dawn of ma, though in that time most were killed because their cave mates got scared. But as time advanced more were able to get away and form their own groups, while others, just like today chose a more solitary life. Exactly what causes the transformation were not 100 certain, but we believe that the feeling of vertigo, you know that feeling when you're way up high? That is actually a sign of it: the feeling to jump of that ledge and fly, though it is usually diffused by common sense, although that urge can seep into your brain, your being. It gets into your head that there is no other way to be and that feeling remains there on a subconscious level for the rest of your life. There is a saying here, 'like soul, like body'.
Meaning that your exterior will reflect your interior. Believe and you will become. Now, that soul determination will manifest in some earlier that others, and in the rest it will never grow greater that a tortured fantasy. Even more people will simply dismiss it as imposable and just go on with their lives, never knowing what they missed. Now, the major reason we cannot be known to exist. Seeing is believing. If we were to just walk around like everyone else, than that would kick-start that ancient urge, causing massive amounts of changes."
"But why would that be such a bad thing? Then we wouldn't have to hide from each other." I was a little shocked at myself having said 'we'.
"I'm getting to that. We can't have a major increase in our population because that would decrease the human, and also upon transformation, all but the most fortunate become sterile. If we exposed ourselves we would be condemning ourselves and everyone else to total genocide. This ancient urge will always exist and we shall exist with it, but only if the rest of the world does not know it. We are the sacred few. The chosen to live a life of dreams and fantasy." Maybe this new life wont be so bad, I thought.
Continued in chapter 2: Return to Arms
2005, Daniel Fountian (FeatherDragoon)