by Michael Bard
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Based upon requests of various interested persons, I've started a diary of my experiences after the EVENT. Hopefully they will help other centaurs with problems. And, of course, any others who have other problems that need solutions or have alternate suggestions should feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
And, since I at least try to write, I've tried to keep true to my experiences, and make it at least a little enjoyable to read.
Oh, and (of course) names and places of others have been changed to protect the innocent and all that.
#3 -- hello world!
Jan 24, 6:00pm
The first thing I did was go into Outlook and start going though the stack of postings that I'd forwarded in the morning. God, but that seemed a long time ago.
As it was opening up, my stomach started to rumble and make its presence felt. Again? Dutifully I stumbled to my feet (it was so chaotic it was almost like collapsing to the ground, just in the opposite direction) and squeezed my way to the Kitchen. I grabbed a plate, took out the half pizza, put in on the plate, and tossed it into the microwave for a few minutes. While it was cooking I grabbed a plate and downed more cups of water, and then...
I turned and made my way back into the washroom, opened the stall and stepped in, partially levered my fore half over the toilet, and then went. It wasn't too bad and I wiped up the bit that missed and then washed my hands.
There. I'm not going to discuss those functions any more unless something noteworthy occurs -- just assume that I take breaks and perform them as required, just like anybody else. You can go back to the diary now.
The pizza was at least warm when I got back to the kitchen and I took it and the plate (warm to the touch) and walked back to my office and lay down in front of the computer to finally read through the e-mail.
Yes, the e-mail showed that I was not the only one.
Sure, I'd gathered that in the morning, but the enormity was just starting to hit me. It seemed lots of people on the TSA list had transformed in one way or another. There were lizardmen, dragons, catpeople, wolfpeople, deertaurs, cattaurs, merpeople, sex changed persons, and even a few other centaurs. Some had changed fully into animals.
Most of the changes had taken place in the US, but then that was where most of the TSA list members resided.
I was not alone, not even in race.
I took about half an hour to go through the postings. It was so quick because most of them were in the form of "I'm turning into 'x'". A few others were more practical comments discussing what to do, but not too many. And there were no real conclusions. A few postings stated that the poster was going to go public, but most of the other posts like that contained expressions of shock and panic, and statements about fleeing and hiding.
I shook my head at the fears caused by the US government.
The one other important thing I noticed was that I seemed to be the only transformee on the list in Toronto. There was one in Waterloo at the university, but that was pretty well it for the entire province. Were there any others nearby? I had no way of knowing.
Finally I tossed in my two cents about joining the centaur crowd and put in a request for practical survival suggestions, and offers to help for those who were having problems. I sure could have used some help earlier.
Next I started searching through some of the news pages on the web -- MSNBC, CNN, etc. There was information on the changes and some interviews. The main one, and the one that was most widely distributed, was from a lizardman who named himself BlueNight.
I remembered him from the list -- he was the one who had the weirdo belief that this life was simply fiction in somebody's brain. Well, that could not be disproven, and currently it was as good an explanation as any, although some of the more scientific experts that were interviewed suggested the idea of some kind of quantum event. Biological causes had pretty well been ruled out.
And, it seemed that each person who was transformed, had transformed into an idealized version of their dream self. Well, I guess that centaur won over merperson for me.
By this time the pizza was done, and the print queue showed that all the print jobs were completed. I stumbled to my feet, stretched, yawned, took the plate to the kitchen, went to the printer, and pulled out the stack of printouts and carried them back to my office. Placing them on the desk, I lay down and started checking and sorting, although my mind wasn't completely on my work.
Mentally I made a list of what I had to look into. I had to get farrier information -- after all, I now had hooves and probably needed to be shoed in some way. Unfortunately I knew very little about that. I needed to contact at least some of the press in Toronto and get my name and face out, so that I could travel without too much harassment by the curious and the dangerous.
Finally, with the sorting done and the pages checked, I stumbled up, rotated, and lay back down at the computer. First things first. I went to Yahoo and searched for 'farrier'. There were a lot of matches, too many. Ok. I tried 'farrier' and 'Toronto'. Still nothing of any use.
Wait, the police had to get it done. I went to the Bell on-line yellow pages and looked up the information number for the Toronto Police. Then I twisted around and picked up the phone and dialed, waited through the annoying 'you must enter 416... ' message (Toronto is switching to 10 digit dialing in March, and from January to that date every call you made without the local area code got a really annoying recorded message), and then waited while the phone rang.
After wading through the voicemail, I finally got to somebody who supposedly could provide information. "Hello, Metro Toronto Police. How may I help you?" It was a female voice.
"I'm looking for some information."
"Where do you get the police horses shod?"
"Shoed. You know, horseshoes nailed to their..."
"I don't have that information."
"Aren't you supposed to supply information?"
"Yes sir." A pause. "I'll try and find out." There was a click and then music.
I sighed. I'd done phone technical support, and I was willing to bet that he'd just put me on hold for a bit before coming back to tell me that that information was not available. Of course, she could actually be checking, but I was cynical.
A moment later, "I'm sorry sir, but we can't provide that information. But if you have a definite need then maybe..."
Need? Oh, I had need. Well, let's listen to the reaction. Taking a deep breath I responded, "I would like to know because I changed into a centaur yesterday, and have not had any luck finding a farrier in..."
Well, at least it wasn't disbelief and scepticism, like it would have been a couple of days ago. "Yes."
For a moment there was silence, and then some sounds of movement, and then a different voice. "Were you in the Finch-Dufferin area this morning?"
"That was me."
"Would you wait a minute -- we'd like to check some things out..."
That sounded strange -- the voice sounded almost threatening. Now I generally trust the police, but I also have a deep and subtle fear -- anybody who has authority and can pull out a pistol and shoot me dead should be feared at least a little. Could I be in trouble?
"Sir, are you there?"
I needed time to think so I hung up. I didn't know what they were doing -- likely they weren't actually going to kidnap or torture me or anything like that, but then maybe they would. Was it worth the chance? Could I take the chance? Had they been starting to trace the call?
Sighing, I remembered a series of fiction that I'd read on the internet a few months ago about a mysteriously transformed centaur that had been kidnapped and tortured by the FBI in the US. She'd gotten away (at least in the story) but had always had FBI agents with her so that she was always trapped, just more subtly.
Still, I didn't want to be tortured. Who would? Time for a change of plan.
And no, in case you're wondering, I wasn't in the midst of paranoid delusions. It was simply a cost-benefit analysis. I knew that I was not going to be imprisoned, tortured, etc. But, that occurrence was not completely impossible -- it had to be admitted. Then it was a question of comparing actions and risk. I could call the police back and almost certainly they would help and I'd be fine. Or they wouldn't and I would not be fine. Easy task, slight risk of really bad result. Alternately, I could just call news agencies right now and get them here. Once I was on TV, then 'vanishing' became a lot less likely. Of course, the police would be slightly annoyed, and that might cause problems later on. Plus there would be more work to get needed services, such as a farrier. Thus slightly more difficult task, extremely low possibility of not very bad result.
Hence I chose the latter. Not because of any paranoia, but simply because I was being cautious and taking steps to prevent major problems. The same kind of idea that makes people look both ways before crossing a street in the middle of the night. Almost certainly there are no cars, but the result of death is so bad compared to the task of taking a quick look that most people take a quick look anyway. I didn't sit down and analyze the situation for hours on paper, I just hung up, played around with possibilities in my mind for about a minute, and then reached a conclusion. Back to the diary.
I twisted back to face the computer, and then looked up the number of Citypulse on the internet as they could get here fastest. Or tried to. Trying some obvious www addresses yielded completely unrelated links. Searching on Yahoo got me the pages (and the 24 hour page had as one of the stories a centaur sighted in Toronto), but there was no 'news contact' number. Ok. I went to the Bell on-line yellow pages, and found a single number to call. Leaving the screen up, I twisted and lifted the entire phone over and dialed the number.
Of course I forgot the area code and got the message again, but then the call was put through and I heard ringing.
"City TV." It was a man.
"Ah, I'd like to report a news story. Who do I talk to?"
"What kind of story, sir?"
"It's in relation to the centaur sighting in Toronto."
I heard a sigh and then a mumbling that sounded something like, "Another one." Then the voice continued. "I'll transfer you sir, bit there might be a wait -- you're not the only one."
Not the only -- oh the only one calling about this. Ok. Time for a different approach. "I'm the centaur."
A moment of silence and then the voice stated, "You're the centaur, sir?"
I sighed. "Let me guess, others have claimed that?"
"There have been a few others, all fake."
I snickered. "Well, I'm not."
"How can I convince you then."
"We already have a news crew on scene."
"Yes, sir. Nice try..."
"Would you wait just a..."
"Sorry, but there are others waiting. Thank you for calling." Click.
He hung up on me. But...
Ok. He said that a news crew was on site. But I hadn't heard anything... Oh, shit. When I get involved in a problem, I become oblivious to the world as I concentrate on it. Although I do listen for certain keywords such as my name, I hadn't heard any of them after the pizza arrived. I've actually worked through minor earthquakes (there was one in Ontario about 15 years ago), police and fire sirens, etc. And it doesn't help that I have the message buzz turned way down. Twisting I looked closely at the phone.
Fifteen messages waiting.
I picked up the headset and entered the code and password, and then listened to the first message.
"Sorry to bother you, but this is Global calling to see if you've heard anything about a centaur in that..."
I deleted it.
The next six messages were similar. But the seventh wasn't. "We've been told that you have been turned into a centaur, would..." Cancelling the playback, I checked the receive time -- 7:21pm -- which meant that it was fairly recent.
I deleted that and quickly went through the beginnings of the rest before deleting them. They were mostly the same, although a few were still asking general questions about sightings. I guessed that somebody must have supplied information after they left for the day. Oh well, I couldn't really blame them, and it might have even been accidental. Fortunately the place I work is quite flexible and understanding, and knew how important the budget was. Besides, everybody liked me.
Stretching, I stood up and squeezed through the hallways towards the front of the building so that I could look through the windows. There are offices along the street side of the building on the second floor and they were dark, but they had glass walls on the inside wall also. Thus I could see through reasonably well and see a Global news van parked on the street. Then, faintly, I heard the door buzzer -- I guessed that I was the only one still here.
Well, this is what I wanted.
Ok. First things first. I walked back and went back into the computer, and sent a message to the TSA list asking if anybody knew of a farrier in Toronto and asked them to send it to my home e-mail address. I might get an answer, or I might not, but it was worth a try. Then I took the neatly stacked and sorted papers in their folders and put them inside the door of my manager's office and then closed and locked it -- she'd left the door open for that purpose. Then I returned, shut down the computer, neatened up my desks, put on my coat and shoulder bag, walked to the door, turned off the light, squeezed through, and shut and locked the door. Then I turned and walked down the hallway, across the upper lobby that held the big printer, and stopped at the top of the stairs. Remembering a line from Mask of the Phantasm (Well, here goes...), I slowly walked down the stairs to the lobby and then trotted to the front door. Somebody had been there and had just turned away so they didn't notice my presence immediately. I had just enough time to punch in the alarm code, and then trot out the door into the waiting press.
There wasn't much of them. The Global van had just left so all that was left was a City TV car with two people. Guess I wasn't important enough for the rest, so City wins.
The lady walking away must have heard me, as she was staring at me as I closed the door and motioning for the camera man with her hand.
I'm not going to go into the details of the interview, as the City TV site has it on line. Later I'll probably transcribe it. Suffice it to say that she was quite nice and asked mostly intelligent questions. Do I know what happened? No. Is there any reason you think it happened to you? No idea. Are you glad it happened to you? I think so -- I'm still working out the logistics of my own body. There were other questions about my new form and you can see the answers for yourself above. Finally, the important question saved for last. It was so important to me, I'm going to repeat it in full, along with my answer. And it was such an innocent little question too.
"So what are you going to do now?"
I sighed. "I'm going to get on with my life."
"No new plans, no..."
"No. I don't know why this happened, or how, or anything else. Maybe somebody will figure it out, or maybe not. But it's happened and I've changed. But --"
And at this point my wandering thoughts and fears from throughout the day finally coalesced and I knew that my answer was the truth.
"-- I'm going to go on with my life. I have to adapt to the change, obviously, but I'm not going to let it control me. I'm not going to change what I do just because I'm different. To put it simply, I'm just another sentient being who wants to live and enjoy the world. Different, but not too different."
And that was pretty well it for the interview. I turned and started walking home through the chill evening air. It wasn't too cold, and my greater volume compared to surface helped on that account. The van followed me, filming -- I guessed they wanted to use the image for a closing or something.
But I didn't really notice -- I was planning what to do next. What to find out, and what it all meant. If anything.
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