Having gone to sleep at six in the morning, I expected to wake
up human around two.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I wanted the transformation. I just wasn't prepared for the sensation of my snout and tail against the sheets.
My first reaction was confusion. I froze, my eyes moving this way and that trying desperately to find some way to explain this dark mass where my nose had been.
My heart was beating incredibly fast. I was hopeful, but, I admit, scared. This was the moment I had been waiting for.
Grasping at my sanity, I closed my eyes and clenched my left hand into a fist. It felt... odd. I ran my thumb over my fingers.
Frantically, my thumb searched, but my pinky wasn't there. I pulled my hands up in front of my face, and touched them against each other. Each had three fingers, and was green and scaled!
I was a lizard-morph.
I turned onto my back, threw off the covers, and stretched my entire body, tail and all, as my mind screamed, thankyouGodthankyouGodthankyouGodthankyouGod over and over. It was a fascinating sensation, to be looking down at my yellow frontside over the top of my snout. I clenched and unclenched the three thick toes on my feet, connecting the image in my mind with the feet of movie dinosaurs and the new Godzilla.
I managed to put on my robe and slowly creep to the bathroom on my new three-toed feet. I was shivering and shaking, with questions and thoughts and plans and plots and ideas.
When the hot water hit me, I started crying.
I didn't really know why, at the time, and I didn't care. I think it was partly a physiological reaction, the shock of being transformed, mixed in with years of frustration and resentment washing away, with a new beginning and a new body, with what I had become finally matching what I wanted to be.
I never thought it would be this intense. I had never written a story where...
I closed my eyes. This was that story. My whole life was written by someone, to illustrate the point of how emotionally powerful a transformation could be. I had twenty-two years of mundane humanity under my belt, I was used to ten fingers and toes, and now that my prayers had been answered, I couldn't enjoy it because to me, it was irrefutable proof that my consciousness existed only in the mind of my author and audience.
I had downloaded the Stages of Grief for a story just the other day, and realized how they were really stages of coping, applicable to every life-change, from losing a job to breaking a favorite toy. Could I remember them, and deal with them, now that my outer appearance had changed?
Denial was first. Okay, think. This change had happened, and it was real enough for me. It took a moment for my mind to catch on that, and recognize it. The water against my scales, against my scaled, hairless head. It was real, and good.
It could have been done by aliens, my mind replied, a bioengineered virus, or plain old magic; the other part of my brain called out that in the end, if there was a reason for the universe and God to exist, it was for that selfish, point-illustrating author's plot. I tried to get my brain on-track for the stages of coping, but after a moment of fighting, I gave up and listened to the parts of my mind.
The positive part of my brain frantically called out to me about accepting facticity. I had a paperback of Sartre on the back of the toilet, and I had been fascinated by his take on facts and reality. I choose to exist, in effect, by not choosing to not exist, every moment of every day. This transformation was yet another fact that I must integrate into my existing life, and yet I still had the choice to let it choose my life's path or drive me insane instead of doing something about it.
I gritted my teeth, opened my eyes, and said to the shower walls, "I choose to exist. I choose to be a lizard. I choose to live my life as a lizard. I am the embodiment of choice. I am my choices, not my environment. I am an adult."
I stared at the white walls of the shower, waiting for something to happen.
My anxiety disappeared, and I remembered then that it was the second stage.
In the white noise silence of the shower, I smiled, then sighed.
Things were never going to be the same again.
I turned to face the showerhead. The tears were washed from my face, and again I thanked God. I had long ago accepted the impossibility of discovering the source of a random natural or supernatural act through philosophical wanderings, so I gave up on finding a reason for my transformation without more evidence.
I did hope that I wasn't alone. I knew too many people who wanted this to happen to them, and I hoped they'd take it with maturity and responsibility instead of reckless abandon.
I was finally enough in my right mind to catalogue the differences between my original human form and this. I found I didn't need glasses anymore, consistent with any of the pictures of my lizard self three furry artists had drawn. Around my body was a faint glow in a color I'd never seen before, and I could see fingernail scrapes clearly on the walls of the shower in another color. I guessed I could now see just beyond the edges of human vision. That might be useful somehow.
Without hair, I didn't need shampoo. Without hair or ears, toweling myself dry was easier than ever. I reveled in the newness of my tail, my short, blunt snout, and the reduction in toes and fingers. I felt like a cartoon, and the idea of being the embodiment of innocence sent warm shivers up and down my newly elongated spine.
I decided to try to change my scale color. Closing my eyes, I imagined I was awash in a sea of deep blue. Then, I held up my arm and opened my eyes, to find...
I was still green. Oh well.
Finally, I gathered my robe around me and walked back to my room. There, I pulled scissors from under my bed.
I had tried to be a sales rep for the best cutlery in the world, but I ended up wasting my leads on presentations more boring than an infomercial by Ben Stein. The result was my very own set of those wonderful knives, in the demo bag I had bought at the start of the sad venture. The scissors, as with all Cutco products, were both a work of art and extremely durable, carrying a replacement and sharpening guarantee that would never expire.
I found that three fingers and a thumb on each hand didn't much alter my grasp. I proceeded to find my oldest, rattiest pair of underwear, and cut a hole in the backside. Then, I tried to put them on.
The result was not pretty. It was too tight at first, but the tailhole ripped wider, and more of my rear was exposed than I needed. The second was better, and the third was perfect.
Using the underwear as a stencil, I traced the hole onto my pants and sliced. It would need a sewn cuff eventually, but for the time being, it was good enough. I dressed in the holed slacks, and pulled on one of my many green t-shirts.
Putting on my socks and shoes, I grinned. My mother was in the living room, watching a movie. This would be the first test.
First, I read a few lines from the "They Might Be Giants / Then" liner notes. The left-brain band's lyrics were odd enough to give me a feel for the sound of my voice. My longer nasal passages did have an effect, but it was somehow balanced by the extra inch of my jaws. I felt around with my tongue, and I realized that my wisdom teeth not only had grown in straight during the transformation, they clenched without pain, and might be useful for chewing food in the future.
Then, I walked into the living room, and stood over the furnace. "Mom," I asked, "could you pause it?"
"Sure," she said, pushing the button. The program froze, and the room fell silent.
"What would you do if I woke up a lizard-person," I asked, feeling the heat of the furnace on my tail. I moved it before it could burn.
She turned around with a smile on her face, and then froze, as if she were paused. Her eyes took in my familiar clothes and my alien head and arms. I raised my eyeridges in concern. "Mom?"
She just sat there, looking at me. I sighed, and said, "It's still me inside. It's just a different shell. It happened while I was asleep, so I don't know how it happened. Please be okay." She blinked.
Then I noticed the tears running down her cheeks, and I started to mist up too. I walked over to her, knelt down, and held her hands in mine while she sobbed.
I knelt there for five minutes, just holding her hands.
Finally, she sniffed, and let go of my hands to get a Kleenex. She said, "What are we going to do?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. I do know that I have to alert the media, so people know it isn't a hoax or a costume, and the government can't steal me away and cover me up."
She nodded. "Eat some breakfast first."
Just then, the dogs started barking and whining to be let in. I stood up by reflex, and then said, "I don't know if the dogs will know me. Could you put Eryn in Ruth's room, and knock on my door, so I can say hi to Amber?"
We did just that. While Mom let the dogs in and separated them, I lightly rubbed some dirty laundry over my arms and tail and face, to enhance the Luke scent for the dogs. It also made me realize I couldn't smell much of anything.
I stuck my tongue out briefly, and brought it back in, and pressed it to the roof of my mouth. Instantly, I smelled what I couldn't before, my room and the dirty laundry. Yuck.
Mom knocked on the door, so I sat on the bed and called, "Okay."
Amber walked into the room, saw me, and froze as still as a dog can get. I called, "Hi Amber, up on the bed."
She whined, and her fur went up. I held out the hand I had used to hold my laundry. She cautiously crept forward, and finally sniffed it, and looked at me. I smiled. "Amber, c'mon up on the bed."
She sat and put her paw up, and I laughed. That meant she wanted her chest scratched, so I did. The other dog also recognized me.
I went to the kitchen to get some food.
The day was turning out as well as I could expect.
I suddenly realized I might have a different diet. After all, I wasn't just a human with scales.
My stomach growled, and I reached to the top of the refrigerator for quick oats. That's when I realized I was a bit taller. I told myself to measure me next time I got the chance, and popped a few dry oats into my mouth. Yum.
So I made oatmeal with peanut butter and honey as usual, read the comics and editorials, and went out to the computer.
I was excited as anything, but worried that nobody would believe me, so the first message I wrote to the lists, and to several other people, stated my condition matter-of-factly, and mentioned that they might want to watch the news. I clicked "Queue" and then connected to download and send. What I got was over a hundred messages, with subject lines like "I'm transformed!!! For reals!" and "I'm a foxmorph!" and "Praise Isis! Cats Rule dogs drool!" and such, as well as messages from lawyers and talent agencies wanting our services.
I grinned. This was good. I didn't have to face it alone, and other people got their dream forms too.
While I waited for the messages to download, I tried logging onto the Undernet chat room, but every server either wouldn't let me on or was far too slow. I gave up in frustration as the email finished downloading.
I read message after message, all from the TSA, all since noon. People had cross-posted to the Furry-Lit list, and everyone there was moaning about waiting for themselves to change. I checked again, and there were no posts on the TSA about not being transformed. Fascinating.
Dragons, centaurs, and even another lizard or two. I grinned. Hopefully, one of the lurkers...
And then it hit me. We were all alone in the world. If it was only us on the list, somewhere between five hundred and a thousand people had transformed. That's less than one in a million. There might be another lizard-woman out there, one that hadn't been a man fantasizing about being a lizard-woman, but there were likely more of us lizard-men. Supply and demand.
And it wasn't a fantasy, either. Life wouldn't be like FurryMUCK, all happiness and smiles and sticking my hemipenes in every bunny femme and catgirl and lizard chick without consequences. And if I became a movie star, I would be the sex idol of millions of women, few of them wanting me for me.
I ran my six fingers and two thumbs over my bald, scaly head, and sighed. I had just gone from denial to depression.
So I played Quake for a few minutes, to calm down. Suddenly, things like Quake were very important. Even sitting askew with my tail across the chair, I needed normalcy. I felt like life had just thrown me a curve ball. This was my one shot to get it right, and if I screwed it up, I would forever regret it.
And then I ended my game of Quake, and stood up, breathed a deep breath, and asked God for His guidance, that I might do His will. A moment of quiet later, I turned off the computer and went to tell Mom about my plan.
I was going to do this right.
Then I smacked my head and turned back to the computer. I hadn't thought to log in to the TFMuck or FurryMUCK, but I had just turned it off. Oh, well.
My first duty, as I saw it, was to ensure the safety of the other listmembers. With relatively human abilities, and human-looking brown eyes, I was probably one of the lucky ones. From the messages I had read, everybody on the list had transformed, but nobody off the list had been. I could have easily gathered more information, but the computer took five minutes to boot and another two to get online. I turned toward the computer, then toward the door, then back toward the computer. I was stuck in a loop, rather like a two-headed turtle with each head wanting to go in a different direction.
"There's no time!" I said out loud, and stopped turning around.
The duty of ensuring the safety of the others would be fulfilled if I could get a minute of national airtime. I walked through the house, set a tape to record Fox News, told my mother of my plan, then walked out the front door.
The world was alive.
The ultraviolet from the afternoon sun was reflecting differently from everything, like cars and rocks, and I saw the Sandia Mountains in a whole new way. Infrared heat rising off of things was visible and wavy, making swirls and whorls in the air. It was exactly like I had imagined, when I was writing my Blind Pig stories.
I stood there in awe, until an idea struck me. Ultraviolet and infrared were very clinical labels, but the reality deserved something more poetic. I came up with two names. Ultraviolet wasn't violet, it was a series of shades of a glowy reflective color, like looking at a CD in a room full of spotlights, so I called it "light'n". Infrared wasn't red, it was a series of warm shades quite opposite to light'n in a way that I couldn't express in the existing language of sight. This I dubbed heat'n.
I walked around my 1986 Nissan truck. I had bought her from a dealer who had put on an old fiberglass shell, and then painted her the pure blue I loved. She had a few dents, and I'd had to replace the oil pan seal and have the timing chain cover in the engine fixed, and they'd neglected to mention that the brake rotors were worn far, far down even though they'd put brand new brake pads in, but she was, to me, perfect.
And now, she was more beautiful than ever. Twilight Blue was shining luminous light'n across the blue, with the heat'n rising off her like warm breath. I saw the dents on her bumpers take on a whole new life of pain, the stress discoloration on the bent metal telling a story of her woe, of her previous owner's neglectful driving habits.
I petted her, and got in. Then I got out, and pouted. I'd need a tail-capable seat soon. Placing my tail forward, between my legs, I managed to fit the seat, but I had to wrap my tail around my legs to keep from stepping on it.
It was funny. I had never thought about what muscles would be needed to move my tail, but it made perfect sense that an extra set of abdominals would pull it forward and an additional set of butt muscles would pull it back. The whole thing was covered in muscles, and I would need to watch what I ate to keep from fattening up again.
I drove to the studio of the local Fox channel. Instead of being a network affiliate from the ground up, KASA Fox 2 had been local station KGSW 14, and had been one of the first Fox affiliates when the network was founded. I figured that was better than Hearst-Argyle-owned ABC 7, with programming mostly provided by Disney. It was also half a mile away, along back roads and one small stretch of University Boulevard, providing the least opportunity for chaos.
Walking in the front door, the receptionist glanced at me, her eyes bright, then smiled. "That's a very realistic costume. Do you have an appointment?"
"No," I said, "But I'd like to see someone right now."
She started to say something, but I continued, "This isn't a costume. I'm news, and you've got me before anyone else in town."
She grinned. "Right."
I sighed, then took a "Superman" pose, with hands on hips, legs apart and braced. Then I moved my tail around, up down, curling it this way and that. I wiggled the tip like a rattler tail, and tapped myself on the shoulder with it.
Her eyes were wide, and I looked at her as if to say, "Well?"
She pushed a button. "Someone will take you to the studio."
In a few moments, a short guy came out of the back room, took one look at me, and said, "Nice costume."
Setting up for the interview, I chatted with the reporter, mentioning that many other people all over the world had transformed, and that the pattern was so specific, there would seem to be an intelligence behind the changes.
The interviewer, a tall man with perfect brown hair, squinted at me. "Intelligence? You mean like aliens?"
"Aliens," I said, "or God, or a curse, or a genie, or maybe an author writing this reality as a story. It doesn't follow the pattern of a viral epidemic. I know both more and less than I would seem to be able to know, because of a variety of factors that I do not wish to discuss at this time, for the safety of the others."
He smiled, and said, "You've thought this through."
Then we were silent as various people called out phrases in broadcast-ese. Finally, I saw the Fox Special Report logo spinning up on a nearby screen. Brit Hume of Fox News Channel said something, then the reporter said, "Look at me, not the screens."
The producer or director or whoever called out, "We're live in three, two." Beep.
|We're live here with Luke, who has transformed into a humanoid lizard. So Luke, what happened?
|I transformed while I was sleeping, I don't know why, I don't know how. I got up, ate breakfast, checked the Internet, and came here because I didn't want me or anyone else who has been changed to be kidnapped by the government, for quarantine or secret government tests, or something. I want the government and the CDC to know there is a specific pattern of transformations. Apparently, everyone who changed has a membership to a writer's workshop email list, dealing with science fiction and fantasy stories about physical transformation. It is not consistent, I repeat, zero percent consistant with a pathogen epidemic. At this time, there is also no reason to believe anyone else will change. I'm pretty sure there are at least a few people who have been fully turned into animals, except their minds, and I ask the President and world leaders to declare us legally human, with the full spectrum of human rights, until permanent legislation can be put in place. Also, if you suspect an animal to be a former human, ask it to hum or bark or neigh a tune.
|Have you adjusted well?
|I've adjusted in that I haven't had any physical problems. As for psychologically, I like this body better than my human body, and for reasons I won't discuss at this time, I've desired a form like this for a while.
|Do you think your desire had anything to do with the change to your unusual new body?
|Probably. I've often wished out loud for a transformation, in case a passing genie or telepathic alien would hear me. I've always been fascinated with how people would react to being transformed, especially myself, and I've written a few stories for that email list
|There are a few other people who have been transformed, across the globe. Is there a connection?
|I've been told that everyone started transforming at noon, Mountain Time, and that some people are still changing as we speak. Every one of them seems to have been on the email list I send my stories to. If there is a reason behind this change, it had access to the listing of members of the Transformation Stories Archive discussion email list. This means if you weren't on the list, you'll probably not transform. I know some people who will be very sad about it, but chin up, science may yet find a way to transform you.
|So in your opinion, the rest of the world is safe from changing?
|If it is spread by a pathogen, it's an amazing coincidence.As for magical or science fictional changes, other email lists could be next, or newsgroups or websites, but since the theme of our list is physical transformation, I don't really see how many other lists could have their themes fulfilled.
|You told me before the interview you wanted to talk about religion.
|Yes. I was raised in a Christian household, and long ago, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I still sin, but I'm trying to stop. I did not make a deal with the devil, and I do not feel mentally or spiritually different. I ask the Catholic and Baptist churches to not persecute those who have transformed. Treat us as fellow humans, as if we had a simple cold or flu, or an ear missing or something. Remember Job's sufferings before denouncing us.
|Erh... I'm... not exactly. That is... I'm not... I'm neither of my characters. I'm nothing from anything I've written about.
|Okay. Um, I think we're in a story about everyone from the TSA
list transforming, and nobody else so far. Should we just live
our lives or wait for a plot to begin?
|(Silence) What? I'm worried about all the fanboys trapped as animals in their
parents' basement and all you're worried about is... plotting???
| (In my defense, I had thought of them, but I had planned the
media blitz in so many of my "What would you do if you transformed?" stories, I hadn't thought of doing anything
besides alerting the media. And I was the one who pretended to be a superhero in the Blind Pig
|(defensive) Well, I'm just worried we're being prepared as a special army for some other universe, or something. I mean, you're right about all the people being trapped. Do you know if Dragon or anyone is tracking down the lurkers?
|I haven't met anyone on the list but Charles... and Dragon's gonna have his hands full... if he's a dragon. As for the special army thing... I feel... I feel very... I have to save them, Luke. I have to save them now!
|(His voice rose alarmingly on this last sentence.)
|Calm down! The best thing we can do now is spread the word that we're still people, not monsters. We've also got to try to contact Dragon, Thomas, and the list-uncles, and track down everyone who hasn't posted to the list since the Change. I'm at the zoo, getting a test run by the people who run the reptile house. That may give us some clues, but I still don't think it was a virus or anything.
|I feel compelled. There's an intelligence behind this, if not, than there's, it's a rather cosmic virus... but it's all so vague to me now... Luke... my dyslexia's gone. How's your asper... condition?
|I don't know. I don't know if I could tell the difference. But I don't need glasses anymore. This is really an ideal form. Anyway, have you considered that the plot might just be to live our lives transformed, and that there are no aliens or adventures waiting? I find that incredibly depressing, except for the possibility of getting a great acting career.
|No... I lived my life in lieu of being a superhero... To live a quiet life, if not fight the good fight. They're all in my head now, vocal and distinct... (quiet) I have to control... this. All of this. There's no going back.
|Um, well I hope it goes okay for you. Email me.
|Listen... don't drive. Stay with someone you know... If they are out to get you, picking you up and holding you because you don't match your driving license would probably be... typical. Y'know? I'll email you as soon as I get home and sort this stuff out. Good luck.
|Thanks for the warning. Seeya on the list.