|A Reverse Chronomorph's Personal Account
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
From the North American Journal of S.C.A.B.S. studies, Oct 2004
Note: The name of the subject has been changed to protect his identity.
Transcribers Note: The following is the complete contents of the diary removed from the person we believe to be 'Mr. Smith'(1) based on fingerprint patterns recorded from the subject; though it is remotely possible that the effects of Stein's Chronic Accelerated Biomorphic Syndrome caused fingerprints to match those recorded by random chance. The subject was found wandering near Hope Bay on August 15th 2003 and although he initially fled rescuers, he was eventually captured. Although chilled, the subject showed no signs of hypothermia or exposure, even though he was wearing nothing and carried nothing except for a book containing the document that follows. As can be seen from the attached photograph (the face is intentionally blurred out), the subject appeared as a classical 'centaur' (a chimera with the lower body of a horse and the upper body of a human where the horse's head and neck would be). Genetic analysis and comparison revealed uncanny similarities to the centaurs who live in 'Paradise'(2). At the time of capture, the human components conformed in appearance and physical development to a male human of age nine. The lower body conformed to the appearance and physical development of a male colt of about six months.
READ THIS (3)
March 20, 2003
I don't want to think about it but I have to write it. Maybe that'll help me put it in perspective, if that can be done.
They're dead, I'm alive. Friends are dead yet I live. Why I don't know. What knowledge I have says I should be dead.
I'm a little bit better now. I think anyway.
I'm standing on Yonge St., north of Lawrence. The crest of the hill seems to have sheltered the buildings somewhat and I managed to find a diary and a pencil in the rubble because this has to be written down. They have to be remembered. I have to remember.
I'd been sick though it seems that everybody was. Almost a year ago I'd heard of that guy in Europe who had spontaneously transformed but I never really believed it would happen to me. Hoped yes, believed no. I've always been too damned rational. But I had been sick. It started in late March, and I called in sick, and everything still seemed normal although there was daily reports of horror coming from the middle east. I guess more time passed than I thought, how much I don't know. I remember being delirious, being in pain, but I was never hungry or thirsty. Eventually though it passed and I woke up like I am now.
No longer am I human. Instead I'm what has been named a centaur.
I can see(4)
I'm calm enough to write again. I remember the initial jubilation -- finally I was something different, something that would be noticed, but that quieted. I tried to make sure this wasn't a dream and it wasn't, though I pray it is. But I know it isn't.
Walking wasn't easy, though I figured it out. My reading and research for other things seems to have helped and learning to walk kept me so busy that I didn't realize at first that the hydro was out. Squeezing back into my bedroom the clock was still going from its batteries but I couldn't get any radio stations. Now I was getting worried, but I'd never had the best of radio reception. I think it was then that I noticed the smells. Whiffs of spoiling meat, garbage, all faint. But then I scented the burning of wood, and the roasting of meat. I wasn't hungry, but maybe there was somebody there. Maybe people had gathered outside in the park and lit a fire to keep warm in these bad times.
This was Canada -- nothing bad could happen here. Even a faint memory of a report from Egypt before I fell sick didn't convince me. Nothing like that could happen here.
I'm an idiot.
I made my way outside into the afternoon sunlight and into the eerie quiet of Yonge St. There were people in the park. Hundreds of them. They were all standing around a roaring fire that engulfed the metal swingset and throwing more scraps of wood and plastic onto it, increasing the billowing black smoke and growing stench, but they didn't seem to care. Vehicles were scattered on Yonge, and a bunch were in the park leaving furrows in the grass. I walked, trotted is probably a better word, over, and saw horror, but it looked so normal! Then another scent reached me, and I recognized it as the smell of roasting meat.
My first thought was that it was a barbeque. I guess in a sense it was.
My mouth watered, saliva gushing in as though a tap had been turned on, at least until I saw what was in the fire. It wasn't an animal, but the flame enshrouded form of a raccoon, man-sized, slumping from a stake in the middle of the fire. Already his fur was gone and I could see ribs glittering in the firelight. I could just stare, shocked and disbelieving, trapped like a deer in headlights, until I heard people shouting.
"There's another monster!"
I spun around at my waist and looked over my back to see who they were talking about, but finally the sound of scrambling feet, and the snap and roar of guns and rifles behind me, broke me into a panicked mindless flight. My hooves rattled and scraped on the pavement and I gasped for breath but I couldn't outrun a bullet. Instead I felt a number of bursts of pain in my hind quarters as I stumbled and slid on the warm cement, once even an explosion in the back of my head pressing my skull painfully against my brain and causing me to black out for a moment, but no permanent harm was done. I had gotten back to my feet...hooves, had started to get untangled and to stretch myself into a gallop, when a van roared up behind me and then over me. The impact threw me to the ground and I felt the burning press of rubber and metal over and through me; something got caught on the understructure of the van and I was dragged a short distance down the street, leaving a trail of blood and flesh and fur, feeling the sting and burr of every stone and pebble and fragment of metal and glass. Something snapped loose with a metallic bang and the rear wheels roared over me amidst a snapping of bones and ribs and I felt the burning sting of air and fumes on naked bone and flesh. I knew I was dead.
But I wasn't. The van had driven over my lower chest and I had felt my ribs snap, felt the wind forced out of my lungs, felt my guts forced up and into my throat. I had even seen my naked bones and flesh glimmering in the light. There was a second of nausea, and then I was fine and I was able to stagger to my hooves as the truck tried to turn around. But I was too late -- the mob on foot reached me and leapt onto my lower back and stabbed me with cold metal knives that ripped my flesh into tears of agony that thrummed through my nerves before the pain vanished. I think I went mad as I kicked, punched, fought as though possessed. I remember clearly the soft impact of one of my hooves, left front I think, in somebody's head, and their skull splitting like thin china. Eventually their numbers won and they dragged my struggling form over to the fire and shoved me into it, chanting and screaming.
I was looking up at the edge of the fire, hearing the sizzle of sentient flesh and the charring of human bones, and then with an inhuman roar of rage and triumph, the mob shoved me into the flames. My fur caught and I inhaled to scream my pain, pulling searing vapour down my throat. I could feel blisters forming, feel the hair of my hide turning into an instant of incandescence, my tail lighting up like some unholy torch and sending waves of pain up and down my spine. But the flames never went any further. My fur regrew to burn again, my tail stayed alight as an eternal flame, my lungs burned and healed and burned again. It was an eternity of pain as the fire consumed me again and again, never stopping, never finishing. There were instants of clarity, of peace, I even saw the glitter of a silver cross on the neck of the raccoons corpse. But then the pain returned. I screamed, sucking the flames into my mouth again and again, blisters forming as my saliva turned to steam, and the seemingly endless burning agony that was pulled down my throat and into my lungs.
I struggled harder, screaming incoherently, able to see the faces of the mob through the wavering fire, their appearance bubbling as the liquid in my eyes boiled and then reappeared, watching the gleeful saintly look on their faces as they pushed the demon into the fire with sticks and street signs and garden hoes. Somehow I managed to get out of the fire for a second, and for a glorious instant the pain was gone, but then they shoved me back in and the all-consuming pain was back, punctuated with the bruises and pokings of sharp metal and the sting of gunshots.
But I wasn't consumed. I couldn't die to end the agony; I couldn't go mad; I couldn't even scream my throat raw. Each instant was pain anew as my body was apparently healing as fast as it was consumed. For hours, years, the torture went on, the flames eating my flesh, the bullets, the signs and hoes. I could feel deep stabs of horrific agony as my regenerating flesh pressed against the spent bullets and gradually worked them out to my endlessly blistering skin and into the fire, the metal dribbling and popping from the heat.
I think that eventually even the mob realized that something wasn't right and an eerie silence possessed them and they slowly began to back away, finally allowing me to stagger out of the flame and into the blessed coolness of the night air only to collapse on the ground, all conscious thought consumed by the saintly relief of flesh no longer being eaten by fire.
The silence was broken by the voice of a woman screaming at the crowd, yelling that I was a test of the trueness of their faith, just like her son had been. Her voice sounded just this side of hysterical, but it had a ring to it that carried and bored into the brain. Her son... He must have been the human-raccoon beside me in the fire...
I have to get this out, all of it. What they did to me and what I did to them.
Water was flung on me, and the crowd backed away as the water just made me wet. Finally I staggered to my hooves and took a step forward, the fire still roaring behind me, tongues licking out and consuming hairs of my tail as it sought me. The woman screamed in rage and the mob roared with her, and then there were coils of nylon rope flung about me and pulled tight, the first squeezing my arms against my body, the artificial fibres digging into my skin, and then the second, or maybe the third, landing about my neck and tightening so that I couldn't breathe.
Somehow, somewhy, I didn't choke, didn't gasp for breath, but just struggled all the harder. The nylon fibres dug into my neck, pressing against the skin that distorted and reformed around them. Other ropes entangled me, some around my chest, some around my barrel, and finally some around my legs so that I fell to the ground with a thud that would have blown the air out of my chest if the passage hadn't been sealed. The rope tightened, digging into and through my neck, and into the naked muscle of the air passage with exquisite pain as the skin reformed behind it. At this the crowd stopped, and I screamed as my neck regrew, digging and burrowing through the rope and finally parting it. I fell silent, and then gagged up the piece of severed rope.
There was more shouting, and some of the crowd turning to flee until the female voice shamed them into staying to do what she called the Lord's work. I just stood, gasping for breath, still entangled by the other ropes that still dug into my flesh. They were able to attach ropes around each of my arms -- I don't think I even resisted, whether out of fatigue or horror I don't remember. They tied those ropes to two different cars, and then on a signal they accelerated away in opposite directions. The first rope tightened with an audible snap, dragging me to the left until the other whipped taut and then I felt my arms ripped from me, the tendons and muscles stretching and tearing and healing. There was a crack like a whip as one arm was torn away, and then I felt the arm regrowing, reappearing as though transported in on top of the old arm which was just out of contact with myself. And then there was a blinding light...
A new pain rippled from my shoulder and tore through me, incinerating each cell in my body and then moving on to the next as the one behind it regenerated. This was true agony; what I'd felt inside the fire was like a cool breeze. Winds howled and spun my body around, yanked me up into the air, and dropped me back onto the ground; bones snapped and then healed.
And finally there was only silence, and all around me shattered shards of building. Of the mob there was no sign (5)
All around me is ruin. Tangled buildings turning dark with the setting sun. This needed to be said; I needed to say it. I just want to run away. Something in me, something in what I have become, killed my tormentors, and killed others that were hiding. Killed good people. Destroyed everything around me.
I don't deserve to stay in civilization.
Instead I'm going to make my way to the Rouge River and then follow it north into the wilderness. If nobody is near me then I can't hurt them. I don't deserve the gifts of civilization for what I have done.
Reborn only to be a mass murderer.
I've been running, galloping for months. Not really thinking, just galloping and hiding. I don't need to eat or drink or even sleep. Once I threw myself from a cliff but all I received was pain, in seconds I was healed. I haven't written because I don't deserve to write. But now things have gotten worse.
For whatever reason I seem to be losing my memories. Things I once knew well, games, stories, have vanished from my mind leaving only echoes of their existence. Having read, at least I think so, a novel by Gene Wolfe with this kind of affect, I am documenting this so that I won't forget what's happened to me.
1. Name: Mr. Smith
2. Occupation: I don't know. Wanderer -- let's leave it at that.
3. Race: Centaur, although originally human (more on this)
4. Special Abilities/Notes: Don't need to eat, drink, or excrete. May not need to breathe. Appear to have immunity to the effects of temperature extremes and other physical debilitations. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. REMEMBER THIS.
I've read the first entry above many times. I don't want to forget. I don't DESERVE to forget. But now I can only remember reading it, I can't remember writing it, I can't even remember it happening! I must have written it as I do recognize my handwriting. It only proves that I need to write this and keep it up. I've found a number of abandoned or unused cottages and finally got up my nerve and forced open a door. Why this one was empty became immediately apparent -- everybody had died, I only hope from the plague. There was a rotting flesh entwined, twisted, almost inhuman, skeleton in one of the rooms and I closed the door and sealed the edges with pieces of cloth and clothing I found downstairs.
I destroyed my home, hundreds of people, or so I recorded. From the way I wrote it, the pauses, the damp tear-stained pages, I should remember. But I don't! And there's worse -- I've looked at myself in a mirror for the first time in months, and I look younger than I remember. Much, younger. Sure, the fact that I once again have a full head of hair could coincide with the hair or mane I've got going down my back, but I have no facial hair at all, and my face looks thinner. I don't know. I can't be youthening -- that isn't possible. It has to be the change.
Reading about the explosion worries me. It couldn't have occurred, yet why would I have written a lie? If a car's gasoline tank exploded then why the total devastation as far as I could see? Laying here in front of the fire I still can't think of any other reason. Re-reading this I remember something from highschool years ago -- something about matter not being able to co-exist? That doesn't sound right. Something about the way the sun works. I used to know the word, I can almost see it, but I can't remember it! But, it means when the parts of matter merge together, according to...somebody they change and release energy. Maybe when the trucks ripped my arm off, a new arm reappeared at the same time, in the same place. They co-existed and maybe that caused the fusion that occurred. Ha! Remembered it! (6)
I took a break and found a radio in the kitchen and turned it on and it actually worked. Must have good batteries as there's no hydro. I couldn't get any music, but I did get some news which told me the date. The station, from Toronto they said, wherever that is, told me that the worst was over and that the plague was under control. People were asked to be calm -- the usual stuff.
Out of curiosity I picked up the phone and it was working. I put it down in a panic. Who would I call? I remember friends, family, I even remember their numbers. It's been months. Do I want to call them? Given what I appear to have done do I deserve to call them? Maybe somebody. At least let them know...
I picked up the phone and put it down. Picked it up and put it down again. And finally picked it up and dialed.
My path is set. I called, got an answer, and then discovered that John (7) was dead, and that instead of telling someone I was alive and bringing joy, I instead reminded their wife of pain and horror.
I've ripped the phone jack out of the wall.
DON'T EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING.
Oh God, don't.
I found some cans of cola in the fridge. They were barely cool so I put them outside in the lake for a couple of hours so that I could have a drink. DON'T DON'T DON'T! At first it was fine, the taste was sweet and it was like I'd never tasted it before though I remembered drinking some, I think. That's when the pain started.
It started in my stomach, in my lower chest, and just got worse and worse. At first I tried to ignore it, but it just kept growing. I was sick, woozy, I could feel my stomach rumbling and burning, and then it felt like it exploded and I could feel liquid spewing up my throat but it didn't come out. I knew I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. Instead I started choking, gagging on whatever had been in my stomach as the burning increased. For a while I couldn't breathe, but then I gagged up some spittle and could, though my lungs rattled and gurgled and I knew I couldn't get enough air even though I didn't die. And the pain continued.
It continued for THREE DAYS! Every so often I would try and vomit, and I would feel something gurgle into my lungs and I would cough and gag and struggle for air, until a little bit finally dribbled out. Eventually I think I went insane for I staggered to the kitchen, falling and then dragging myself back up or along the floor, pulling a drawer open and getting a hold of a carving knife and sticking it into my chest where the pain was most intense. The pain was so bad that I didn't even feel the knife, except as a relaxing coolness. There was more gurgling, and then I felt liquid mixing with the blood as it dribbled out through the hole. I pulled the knife out, cutting the scabbing acid burns and that lessened the pain but I healed before my stomach could empty.
I had to do this five times before the last of the undigested coke got out.
Then, and only then, after my own body pushed the knife out while it healed, did the pain finally go away.
I just woke up amidst bright sunlight shining through a window, surrounded by the stink of my own blood and stomach fluids. By going outside and splashing around in the lake I was finally able to get the gore off me. Never again.
DON'T EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING!
I don't know what happened, but I'm going to find out!
I think I know what's going on, as incredible as it seems. It took a few hours to mop the mess out of the kitchen -- I was able to get water from an old hand pump to clean. Thank God I found some air freshener to spray or I would have had to flee outside from the stench. But it finally went away and I slowly walked into the living room and sat down and started reading and studying.
But I couldn't learn. I would read various articles one day, and on the next I would have completely forgotten their contents and would have to restart. Only by making notes could I see what I'd done and not have to read it over and over again. It's so damn frustrating. Finally, with the point form notes from the old and battered encyclopedia set I found in the basement (fortunately only volume SA-SE was missing) I determined that part of the problem was that horses couldn't vomit -- their esophagus (I had to copy that though I dimly remember knowing it once) is too long. It seems that my stomach didn't like the coke but couldn't get rid of it. Normally horses bloat and then excrete, but that never happened. That suggests that I couldn't digest (I had to copy that too) the liquid and thus it was trapped.
That gave me some answers, but the key just happened today.
My voice broke.
Not in the normal fashion of deepening, but in reverse -- changing to a higher pitch.
I know I'm older than that. Checking the mirror showed that I looked fine, but reading these notes I apparently used to be losing my hair. I think I was in my 30s? That feels right, but it makes no sense. There's no way I even look close to 30.
That means that I'm aging backwards. Impossible, but that's all that makes sense.
More reading and notes -- some of the words are becoming hard to understand -- explained that humans tend to experience puberty (growing old) around 13. Then I went to work out some algebra. I couldn't even remember that word and I had to look it up! I know I used to be able to do multiplication, and even differential, but now I could barely add. It took a long time but I finally think I've got it right.
I remember being in my 30s - say 35(8). Now I'm 13. In my diary that was March. Four months. That means that I've grown younger by 22 years. In four months (I had to add this by trying over and over different values but I know there used to be an easier way) that means 5 years and something...can a number be changed into smaller numbers? I don't remember! But 5 years per month means that it's two months until I am born. Or die. I don't know!
Back to the healing and that I cannot eat or drink. I'm aging younger and younger. My body repairs itself almost at the same time it is injured. Maybe my body makes a new copy of itself once a minute or so, that copy being younger. Anything that is in contact or inside my body is extra stuff -- something not needed. The coke as something else would not be eaten because my body never moved in the right way (moving forward in time) to eat it. It sat there and sat there, something that shouldn't be there, and my body tried to get rid of it but could not.
I think. I don't know anymore but this is the best I can come up with.
And it is horrible. In two months, at the end of September, I will be dead. Or born. Or I don't know!
What will I know then. Will I even remember my name? My friends? My loves?
I can't write anymore. I want to but I do not remember any more.
I will read this.
I will remember.
What good is this if I can no longer read? Is all life like this, born knowing and then losing it all to time?
I wish I could sleep. I don't want to think about what is going to happen. I am going to die in two months. But by that time I will be already dead because I will not remember anything about it. I do not want to die. Even reading what I read earlier in this, I do not think I deserve to die. Alone, forgotten, knowing nothing.
I do not want to forget!
Found a pen and it is working. I can not read a lot of this, and I know I will be able to read less.
I am MR. SMITH.
I was HUMAN.
I have been wandering, staying in the wilds in case humans find me and hurt me as they did in March.
I can feel my mind dying. I know I forget things. I try to remember and I cannot. I do not want to die!
Whatever happens I will remember! (9)
Human catch me. They take my book but give it back when I cry and cry. I know they hurt me, but these not. My book is mine. It is good, it is. I forget. It is mine. They cach me because I run and jump off clif. I not need to stop. It hurt for a bit and then heal. But the botom I can not get out. Human come and help me. They not hurt me. But I put here that they hurt me. I think. I look at my book. I can not read it. That is rong. I know I coold. One time. I remember. Humans told me that. Now I forget. I forget all thing. I forget I forget. I want to remember! I do!
Doctor reed book. I remember. I not want die.
That was last entry. Mr. Smith was captured when a farmer reported seeing a very young looking centaur near the Niagara Escarpment by Georgian Bay. An RCMP officer approached him and he fled and the officer gave chase but lost him. This resulted in a search being organized which eventually cornered Mr. Smith but then he jumped off the escarpment. As the diary mentioned, he healed but was trapped and a helicopter was needed to lift him out. Tranquilizer darts failed, and the diary suggests that his body instantly healed from the effects of the drug. Tests suggest the recycle time is a second or possibly less, not a minute as Mr. Smith speculated. Likely, the foreign substance was extruded through his flesh as a kind of sweat. The cells in a blood sample under close examination proved to be aging normally which suggests that the reverse chronomorph affect was local to Mr. Smith's body.
Mr. Smith remained under care for another 23 days. He never wrote in his diary again as he had forgotten how to write, but every day he would turn the pages back and fourth, staring at them, whispering sounds. Occasionally he would read a word out loud, but that became less and less frequent. During the night I would read him it, and he watched me with his tail moving to the left or right every so often. Sometimes I could see him whispering the words as a mantra.
By September 2nd he was no longer able to make out any words but he cried if we ever took the diary away. Fortunately we'd made a copy of it when we rescued him after he leapt off the cliff. On September 11th he finally regressed into a fetus but remained alive. According to the nurse on duty he clearly stated his name in his last moments but that is considered unlikely as his development would not have allowed recognizable speech. Once she called us we watched Mr. Smith on the bed grow a sack that pulsed and slowly shrank. By 2pm we were able to pick it up with rubber gloves and move it into a beaker and then watch as the cells joined and shrunk. By 4pm the fetus was barely visible to the naked eye and we placed it on a slide and by watching through a microscope we were able to see Mr. Smith's final moments. There were eight cells, then four, then two, and then just an egg. A sperm wiggled out and then the process stopped as an egg and a sperm sat, motionless, on the slide.
We tested these and confirmed that they were alive, and they have remained alive ever since though unmoving. We don't know whether they will ever vanish, or if the reverse chronomorph affect will reverse and the aging process start to move forwards. Even if it does move forwards we don't know at what rate. The rate of rejuvination slowed for the fetus which supports the hypothesis that the rate of growth could vary. The egg and sperm are being kept in an oxygenated environment even though they have so far consumed none of the oxygen, and monitored so that if fertilization ever again occurs there will be time to transplant the developing fetus into an artificial womb. As of August 31, 2004, both were still alive and unchanged.
His diary is kept waiting for him.
(1) [Attached RCMP records from a security check from Mr. Smith made in 1984 when he worked in the RCMP office in Kitchener with privileged information blacked out]
(2) An index of articles regarding the centaur community of 'Paradise' can be found at http://tsa.transform.to/worlds/tbp/24amugwumpwakes.html.
(3) Note that this was added to the front page later than the initial entries.
(4) It appears that the page was almost ripped out, and the bottom half of the page is missing. However, the writing appears to be complete. We believe that he stopped writing for emotional reasons.
(5) It is known that an explosion of unknown cause occurred in Toronto near the intersection of Yonge and Lawrence on March 20, 2003. The explosion was the equivalent of roughly a 10 kiloton device and flattened buildings for about 1500m around. No radiation was recorded at the site. It was speculated that an inanimorph of some kind detonated, but this document suggests an alternate explanation.
(6) What Mr. Smith was speculating about we believe is the possibility of the atoms that made up his arm fusing with the atoms they co-existed with. Given that matter is mostly empty space, if two arms co-existed in the same place at the same time, it is possible that one or two atoms would have overlapped and fused. Only one or two atoms would have been enough.
(7) The name was changed to protect the family's privacy. He died of Martian Flu during the early stages of the epidemic. Mortuary records indicate that Mr. Smith was a pallbearer.
(8) Mr. Smith was 37 in October of 2002. Based on this information, and other events, he was rejuvenating by just over 6 years every month. At this point his on-going loss of language and knowledge can clearly be seen.
(9) The last of this line was written by deeply impressing a pen on a page but there was no ink. We were able to read it fairly easily and evidence suggests that Mr. Smith went over and over the last line to make sure it could be read.
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org