by Wicrae

  One of the only things that have been a constant in my life is stress, and my reaction to it. Seeing as I get stressed over the littlest, inconsequential things (some of which I created myself, or wished for), my reaction was not that much different at 2:00 p.m. on a certain Tuesday.
  "God, damn, mother-f..!" I raged, holding my now black-scaled and crested head; the snout of which had just made a painful collision with my computer monitor. Of course, the situation wasn't improved much when I painfully bashed my left wing into a wall and my right knocked my potted plants off my shelf. Goddamn, I hate cleaning up spilled dirt! Of course, it didn't help that most of it fell all over my computer. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I felt myself fall. What wasn't in the back of my mind was the shooting pain I felt run up my spine when I landed on my newly acquired tail, which was painfully jammed against the waterbed base of my bed (what can I say? I like the base but waterbeds make me sick! :-))
  "Calm down. Calm down. Calm down," I repeated, closing my eyes. Odd, normally at this point I'd be at tears. I suppose this form didn't react that way, or maybe lacked human-type tear ducts or something. Who could say? At least thinking about my transformation calmed me down a little.
  I edged out from between my computer desk and my bed, difficult when one's feathered tail is lodged behind in the wrong direction! Strangely my chair seemed to have vanished, which is just as well, otherwise I'd probably be completely stuck and have a broken tail as on top of all of this (not like I didn't come close to it)! It's probably just as good that my clothing vanished as well, for the same reasons. I silently thanked the gods that my tail was flexible. If I had turned into a dinosaur..!
  I managed to twist around and climb up onto my bed and face the poster-covered mirrors on the other side. They were sliding closet doors, and very big. Perfect. Carefully, I used a claw to peel a large black panther poster off.
  Staring back at me was a small, black, somewhat altered version of an Ancient Dragon from the anime Slayers TRY. What that means is that I was that I had a black, unscaled shortened type of draconic body (not a long one). However, unlike in the anime, instead of feathery-looking spikes, I was covered in spiky looking soft feathers on the top of my head and down my back, over my wings, to my tail. The largest feathers were on my wings and tail. I hoped this suggested flight! :-) There was a small area of scaley feathery-looking spikes where the feathers gave way to my bare black skin around my face and on my shoulders. I lacked elbow-spikes, which was good... I didn't want to accidentally stab someone through! I looked lithe, but not snake-like. I opened my long mouth to see sharp, gleaming white teeth. I wondered how I could talk through it. My eyes were a beautiful deep green and it looked as if I had three irises! All in all, I seemed to have taken a form I had often, and fondly, imagined myself to be. I didn't regret the loss of my breasts; I was the most flat-chested girl I knew, anyway.
  I had just determined that my wingspan was about the width of my bedroom when I heard my Mom's boyfriend, Chuck, on the phone. My crest flattened.
  Shit! What was I gonna do?! All of my previous panic and stress suddenly returned to me. I did the only thing I could think of. it was incredibly stupid, but I was lucky. I hid under my blankets, folding my wings as tightly as I could, and waited. Eventually, Chuck yelled that he was going to take a shower, so if I wanted to use the bathroom I should do it now. I yelled out a muffled, "No thanks." And I heard the bathroom door shut. I sighed in relief. Perfect timing! I carefully got up out of my pile of blankets without tearing them and checked my email. I couldn't imagine that the TSA mailing list didn't have anything to do with this. I mean, what else could I think?!
  While I waited for the messages to download, I checked out my hands, er, paws, claws, or whatever. I wondered if I could consider them hands, anymore, or not. I pulled out the little sideboard on the desk, got a piece of paper, and picked up a pen. That part went fine. Trying to write with claws that extended past the tip of the pen was the hard part. After a little experimentation, I found that holding the pen between the curve of the claw on my middle finger and my index finger with a little thumb and ring finger claw support worked. It was as clumsy as hell, but I supposed I'd just have to get used to it. That, for me, was the clincher. If I could write with it, it was a hand, damnit.
  I noticed that the messages kept rolling in. Jesus, I wondered if all these messages were from TSA. I scrolled down to the TSA folder in Outlook. Sure enough, it was just filling up with messages. I guess this was TSA related (as if it couldn't be!). I quick-read about some lizard morph and a centaur morph and decided to write about my own. Halfway through my email I stopped. I thought about what others said about government agents and such. Back then it was just arguing with no way to really prove one side or the other. But this was real. This was my life. There could be some suspicious people on the list... I mean, there were maybe 500 members but I've only seen about 20 talk. Who knows about those lurking hundreds? Oh, to hell with it! If anything happened, I was gonna need support anyway, might as well let 'em all know. I finished my email, which was rather short and sent it off. It read something like this:

Hey, everyone, normally I lurk (with the occasional insertion into a debate) but I thought I'd mention that I'm affected to! Seeing how many other messages are on here, I've decided to keep this one short. I'm a dragon based off of my favorite anime series, Slayers. Any other dragon morphs out there? Hey, anyone tried to breathe fire yet? I'm kind of constrained right now.

  I decided not to read any more email. I needed to take the chance to either flee the house or stay and confront Chuck. I decided to flee for a little while. I could always come back later. I looked at the little travel clock on the desk. 2:50. Alrighty then, I thought to myself, and I slowly extricated myself again from between the desk and bed, then squeezed between my dresser and bed. It wasn't size that caused problems for me, it was my wings and tail being in the way, which was extremely bothersome.
  I slowly walked through Chuck's 8-year old daughter's bedroom (hers is between the kitchen and mine), watching my feet. They were like larger, thicker versions of my hands... five-toed and clawed. My legs were not digitigrade, they were constructed like my old human ones but thicker, perpetually bent, and in fact they seemed a bit shorter. I also noticed something else. Where was my crotch?! I frantically felt around until I found an opening at the base of my tail. I sighed in relief, for various reasons, but then I wondered about reproduction? I shook my head. No time to think about that now. I stepped into the kitchen. Next to the bathroom door were reflective black tiles, put up by my mother. The view was narrow and vague, like a silhouette, but I was able to see a little bit more of me than I could when on all fours on the bed.
  For starters, the top of my head was at the same level on the tiles as when I was... human? Normal? My legs seemed to be shorter and kind of stumpy and farther apart, but the slight lengthening of my neck and torso made up for that. I rather liked the silhouette I made, though it wasn't complete. It looked pretty cool. I glanced over at the clock radio above the counter. 3:07! I had to stop wasting time!
  I scribbled a short note very carefully and left it on Chuck's keyboard, as is the norm. I grabbed an old scrounged-up blanket from my mother's room, then discarded it. It wouldn't help, not with these wings and tail! In fact, good thing he was taking a shower as opposed to a less noisy activity, or he might wonder what the clicking noises my claws were making against the floor were! I was probably better off as I was; unhindered.
  I went to the back hall with much wing-scraping and muffled oaths, opened the door, took a breath, and stepped outside.
  The smell! It was indescribable! The only comparison I had for it was a comparison to extremely bad vision being corrected with glasses for the first time! Amazing! I could pick up the smells of the stray cats in the neighborhood. Hmm, recently three males, two females. I shook my head. I must have been so used to the smell of my house that I hadn't noticed it earlier, but now I made a mental note to consciously sniff out the house later.
  And the world was huge! No, rather, it was wider. Increased peripheral vision? I waved my clawed hand around my head. It seemed like it. Not a huge, huge difference, but it was definitely noticeable. It was also sharper. Clawing at my face (muzzle?), I realized at this point that I wasn't wearing my glasses (author's note: My vision is pretty bad. And yes, regardless, I sometimes forget if I have my glasses on or not.)
  These observations were made nearly simultaneously. I turned around, trying to work my tail out of the doorway when I heard the sounds of kids playing nearby. in fact, in my backyard! Shit, shit, shit, shit. I just cleared my tail from the door when one of the neighbor's kids, Sean, meandered over onto the driveway I was turning around on. Looking at me with an expression of terror, he managed a week little, "Eeep!" before turning tail and running faster than I thought a kid of his bulk should have. I guess I couldn't blame him; seeing a tall feathered dragon with long arms sporting sharp claws and its lips pulled back in a grimace over sharp teeth would scare me a bit.
  But now what? I could still run for it, presumably all children seeing me would make a run for it, but what if they didn't? I couldn't attack them even as a joke. I could imagine the repercussions, namely, lawsuits. So, I did the only thing I could. I stepped back inside the house. It looked like I was gonna have to explain the situation right now.
  There was one problem, though. I couldn't shut the door behind me without effort. I scrunched up my wings and carefully turned, but my tail was blocked by the bottom step and the edge of the doorway to the basement. I sighed. I undid my partial rotation and tried backing up so my tail would droop on the basement stairs. That worked. I got the door closed, and then I marched up the steps to the inner door that I had left open previously. I didn't bother with closing that one.
  Chuck must have just finished his shower, I didn't hear the water running, but the door was still closed. I took a deep breath. "C-Chuck?"
  "Yeah?" I heard rustling noises.
  "I think I'm having a problem." What an understatement!
  "The same kind as before?" He was referring to a time when I had gone blind for a few terrifying minutes and I had no idea why. Later, I decided it was a combination of the flu, that-time-of-the-month, and having neglected to eat much recently that had caused it.
  "No, but definitely more serious."
  "Well, OK, hold on, I'm coming out and we'll talk about..." The door opened. And Chuck stepped out, clad only in a towel ""
  This is the panicking part. Of all reactions I expected out of Chuck, I never expected him to turn as white as a sheet and run out of the house. I gave chase.
  I raced as fast as my short legs could carry me outside. I had a brief thought about the cats escaping outside. They always come back, and this is more important! I jumped over the porch steps and ran into the street. Children, the only ones out at this time of day in winter, stared.
  Damnit, I was losing him! I was always a slow runner, but this was too important! It hadn't quite occurred to me the scene I was making, or the fact that chasing Chuck probably wasn't going to help calm him down.
  I needed speed! I pushed myself harder; unconsciously leaning forward, lifting my tail off the ground. My arms were pulled to my body, which prevented them from scraping the ground. My wings extended, flapping slowly and catching the wind just enough to help me balance. At this point, I think I was running on the tips of my toes, like a dinosaur. I was almost completely unaware of this. All I was aware of was the target I was pursuing. I began to pant.
  Chuck dodged between some parked cars and ran into the baseball field across the street. I climbed onto the hood of one of the cars and leapt onto the metal fence surrounding the field. I quickly climbed it, and leapt! My wings suddenly got even larger; I felt the feathers extending from the skin, as if they had not been entirely exposed before. This is when I realized what I was doing.
  Once I became consciously aware of what was going on, I panicked. Sailing towards Chuck, I jerked my body upwards to a standing position which completely flipped me over in midair. I'm not sure exactly what kinds of aerobatic feats I performed. all I saw was the world spinning. and I landed rather painfully and abruptly on my back.
  I stared ahead of me. I was dizzy and disoriented. Why am I seeing upside-down trees? Where's the sky? Did I break my neck? Oh, wait. I'm not human anymore... I moaned. The wind was completely knocked out of me. My lungs burned, my legs ached as did my shoulders and my toes felt like they had been dipped in acid.
  I have no idea how long I laid there. I just could not move. The wind was knocked out of me and I was exhausted. I could barely think, and it was getting worse. I vaguely sensed children coming close whispering and prodding me. The last thing I saw was a large van labeled "Animal Control" pull up the street...

-=:( ):=-          -=:( ):=-          -=:( ):=-

  I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was woods. The sun was setting. Where am I? What happened? I remembered chasing Chuck, then tripping... no, falling... children... Animal control truck... I gave up. I was feeling too damned good at the moment to worry about such inconsequentials... I was probably at the nearby nature reserve. I sighed, taking in the sight of the woods. I felt calm, peaceful, relaxed. and full. Full?
  I decided to move to a better spot to enjoy the woods, when I felt a squish beneath my feet. I looked down.
  "Oh God! Oh God!!" I choked in horror, backing up. Something bloody and sticky refused to drop from my foot. There was a mutilated, half-eaten child in front of me! Some part of my mind told me I ate it, but I refused to accept it. I spun and ran from the site, stopping only when I had run out of breath. I puked. I saw bits of human flesh. I stared in complete shock, sinking to my knees. Whenwhyhow??Ikilled.OhGodNo! I let out a dry sob followed by more retching. A few hours later I recollected myself. Calm down.. calm down. Then, after a while: What am I going to do??! Calm.
  The afternoon sun beat down on me. Afternoon? Then sun had been rising! What day was it? How long had I been... gone?
  The enormity of what I had done hit me. What would happen to me? I wasn't human anymore. Would I be put down like some animal?? I thought about the others on the list who'd changed. I imagined the public response to what I had done. What would happen to everyone else? I damned them with me, I'm sure.
  I knew what I had to do. I gathered up my vomit the best I could, and buried it. I went back to the body. I looked at it with dread and revulsion. The face was mostly intact and I did not recognize it. I prayed to God that it wasn't some neighborhood kid I'd never noticed before. I calmed myself with the thought that if I had plucked one of the kids in the neighborhood, assuming this was only the day after, Animal Control, the police, something would be here right now... maybe I wouldn't have even 'woken' up. I carefully picked up the gory thing. Where to hide it?? It was winter... granted, not a very snowy one at the moment, but still... The lake? Should I bury it? Not the lake... too close to the road and some Tift Farms cabins, someone would see. OhGodohGod. The lake seemed the best choice, anyway... if I approached carefully... Of course, I still had no idea where I was. I put down the body. Maybe I should just confess. I thought about it. Why not? In the worst case I'd be killed, but what was wrong with that? Maybe I should die. What would guarantee this wouldn't happen again? This wasn't supposed to be real! Real..? That's it!
  That was when I realized: Everything was just as I had imagined it -- my form, and my easily-set-off out-of-control killer dragon persona. But I never really wanted it like this! I only imagined it as a story idea, a daydream! I realized then why it was even more important that I eliminate myself.
  My imaginary dragon self was one who was cursed with dragonhood by an insane dragon who wanted revenge on everything for its death. At times of extreme stress the monstrous dragon within would rise up in a killing and destructive frenzy until satiated. The mature form was impossibly enormous, whale-dwarfing, as big as only mythical dragons could be. It would take thousands of years, assuming that this nightmare was following my imagination, until I grew completely to the mature size. And all the while I would live, killing uncontrollably and without memory any time I lost control. I couldn't live like that. I refused to live like that!
  I left the body where I dropped it and began to search for the trail out of the park with my new resolve of self-destruction.

[more to come]