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Trebonth

Unusual Occurence

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   When the computer booted, I simply sat there and stared at it for a few moments.
   It stared back at me.
   My cheeks twitched as I attempted to blink. Okay... I see the picture... I know that's writing... I felt a flare of frustration. Why can't I read it? Isn't this creature literate? I still have MY brain! I squinted at the login screen, now uncertain, then looked down at the keyboard. It made about as much sense to me as a paint splatter - Wait! You can make a picture out of splatters! Okay, you remember the patterns you have to make, right? Just use your motor memory. I moved my arms, starting with the wrong pair, shifted my shoulders, tried to find the right muscles, leaned forward, bent a bit, tried moving again - darn it, how did I do that again?? - and tried touching my face again. Ah hah! There are the secondary arms. Okay, so I moved my secondary arms over the keys, stared intensely at the screen and the positioning of my hands, and tried to type.
   Passwords are blocked out, so it didn't help me when I began typing, but it also wasn't a problem since I couldn't read my own account name anyway, even though in my head I knew what it was. Thankfully I was already a three-finger typer, so I only messed up a couple of times before I began typing coherently - or at least, I thought I was. With new muscles, I lacked the motor memory I needed, and without being able to read I was forced to guess the position of each key, but after seven minutes of failed attempts and stress I finally logged in!

   I let out a happy chirruping squeal when the OS brought me to my desktop. Whew! So I could still kind of use a computer; although if this continues being a thing I might want to color-code each of the keys... Navigating the laptop was easy once it was loaded, as I associated more directly with the icons than the text, so it was no less difficult than using it with a different language selected. The problem arose again only once I had my email client up and I was ready to write home; not only was I not sure what to say, I wasn't confident that I could say it...
   Just do what you did with the password, I assured myself, maybe repeat each word in case you fudge it up each time. I don't even know what to do after this though... I can't hide in here because people will drive me out... but I don't want to just abandon my things and Aegis, hoping that my parents actually come and pick them up.
   Maybe... maybe I'll just tell them straight. I can't risk a long email conversation littered with excuses, trying to convince them that this can't be solved any other way. And... maybe they'll bring me home. I could hide there! I mean, I should send a picture, just so they're prepared. Yeah. Using a phone can't be any harder than the laptop...

   With that decided, I awkwardly began typing as coherently as I could, trying to explain my situation. I couldn't proofread it, which annoyed me, but I just told myself that it didn't look as bad as I feared. When I sent it off, complete with a very shaky picture of my new self (which I admittedly studied a bit more) that took way too long to find on the computer, it looked like this:

   " Heyu guys, I eed you to come pick up Aegis for me. I've ciontracted the Pokush virus and now I'me some kind of fluffy crystal creatufre;. It's tje omage attacjeed tp tjos. I b;t be able to work out here now so if you want to pick me up along with my belongings and Aegis, then wrap p ,yjotel stay for me, that'd be awesome. Thanks! I;m about to email my latest client - no wait, please email my latest client for me. Tell him I'm sick please. His number is 293=4850. Love you guys!

   = Sa,amthja "

  
If I had been able to read it I would have been impressed by how many keys I hit correctly. Then I would have been embarrassed about "Pokush". I guess in that case, ignorance is bliss. High with stress, I sent off the email to my parents, deciding not to email John after all and hoping they could tell him for me.
   Then I realized that I might have typed the phone number wrong - which I did - and second-guessed myself. So I wrote an equally-awkward email to him trying to explain that I was incredibly sick and won't be able to do art anymore. Then I told him my parents might be calling him because I'm way too courteous like that. Wrote "sorry" as best I could about six times, tried to end it with a light joke about how great it was he didn't prepay me, signed it off with "Samanthja" again - without slipping this time! - and sent that email off too.

   Now, I found myself staring blankly at my colorful phoenix background.
   I guess all I can do is wait, I thought. Maybe I'll watch TV... I'm already paying for the service. Surely there are other people that have turned, right?
   Well, working the remote is going to be an adventure..
   Oh, and I need to feed my cat, too.

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Trebonth: Curiosity is always first step to hell.

    As I thought about why my belly was demanding the food, I listened to the pigeons, one from the wild and one city one, who strangely also were saying in sort of alien language, but weren't just cooing or whatever, but actually... sorta speaking? Well, this couldn't be weirder than it is currently. I thought light-headedly and confused. Besides the conversation, though, I noticed how the strange crimson bird woke up and- Saints, have me at your mercy... what is THAT? I stumbled back and promptly fell on belly as I lost the thin balance, as I got disturbed by the sight of it.

 

    Indeed, it looked like an eldritch abomination, just gross, but for plus I could just tell myself that it ISN'T a soldier from NATO, because that would be just... a slap into a face... grr, them soldiers, they fight for anything but not for freedom. And it looked... I would puke at sight of it, but thankfully I didn't learn that yet, whatever I am. Well, guess I had to go somewhere, just to get away from the sickly thing. I moved away from the place, and decided to find something to drink, hopefully that doesn't get too ha- huh. What's it-  Agh, I blinked hard, but the sign nearby still looks like six-year old tried to paint something. I can't identify even part of it. Guess I won't get any information from it... damn, I'll just go further then. Well, that was quite disappointing, but I am not the one who was reading that anyway.

 

    I looked away from the sight, wondering why I can't get any of that. But then I still needed to find water. Hmm, I walked some more, still not used to that low 'crawling'- wait, did I see a puddle? Water! I can finally drink from it! Well, it takes some time, especially when I don't see arms myself, but- wait, this isn't water, it's a mirror. When was it abandoned there, anyway? This is a waste of a good glass. What is that beige underside? Is a snake looking at me? If you're really there, are you understanding me? Well, I had stupid ideas, this one is also one. I tilted my head, in confusion and curiosity. Reflection did the same, looking at me with one, green eye- wait, what's the matter with pupil? Is it the entire eye?

 

    I gasped and the 'grass snake' did the same, still sounding funny. I tried to say, and not only did it go garbled. It also made my... tongue move? It also seemed to connect with the 'snake' What even happened with me that I look like a grass snake anyway? Not only that. I can notice the yellow eyelids when I blinked, which normally would be taken as a manicure... Eww, I didn't manicure my face, really. I didn't do it at all, it was a job for some women who act cool. The crimson-red... scales? What kind of the colour was that? The beige underbelly? Now my head was pounding from confusion, that much, that I tried to reach the head again. Turns out my arm... shortened by a lot and had been build like a lizard... one? This didn't happen, I'll just pretend this never happened. Shock slowly turned into disbelief in my case, but primal urges aren't to be ignored. Hmm, now that I know what roughly I am, a weird grass snake with lizard limbs and leafy tail, what would I do?

 

    Oh god, I'm confused. I'm very serious and sure that this isn't natural. How would have I turned, when there was no case of turning in Katowice? Did I catch a virus while my home city was besieged? Or was it rubble with dead people? Never-mind, I still feel dry in the neck. I still need to find a puddle now. Being parched is worse than being hungry - I still needed to drink water- and here it is. Water. As in the puddle water. Now I drank some water. Well, that wasn't good, but it wasn't that disgusting as I thought. Okay okay, I have to calm myself now. I'm still hungry, but what will I do with my stomach then? I can't fill it with the air, because first - it's no use to do it, second - even if, I can't eat air. Maybe it would be a good idea to check on the 'bird' again. But still, how come that on the feral day I became a grass snake? I was really sure that no infected person was near me, even at war. Ugh, I can't even focus at all, that much confusion I had. As I returned back to the 'birds', I was quite trying my best to adapt to the body. First, I tried to say hello multiple times, but all of the attempts failed miserably. Ugh, if I was able to speak, I would give anything for just the speech ability. And understanding one, too. Well, guess I'll try to learn on my own hand how to speak and understand myself then. Maybe I'll return to under bridge, because I spent so much time being confused by myself, and I just don't want to get lost.

Edited by Trebonth

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Raul: a new murderer.

 

I can feel the wild-type pigeon getting closer. He's ambling along cautiously, one three-clawed foot in front of the other, trying to approach me without putting himself in danger. I struggle to get back on my own limbs, but they're long and dangly and I roll around like a dying bug. I try to remember what my own birds do if they get caught on their backs. It fails; the only time I've seen them rolled over was when they were dead.

 

My panicked thoughts are interrupted by a hard pain to the base of my chest. My eye opens wide to the Wildy with a savage expression on his beady-eyed bird face. He quickly jerks back, scratching at the goop on his beak. It looks like blood, and for a moment I think it's my own, but then I realize that it's way too bright. Unless, of course, I was transformed into a bird with orange-reddish sticky blood.

 

Wildy struck out his wing at my 'head', although he was still preoccupied with the itching goop. I felt nothing: I jerked my neck away well beforehand. Then, I kick my legs out.

 

A large mass of warm, breathing feathers greets my talons. Wildy shakes, cooing/screaming in agony. A direct hit. My claws rake up. Pigeon meat is surprisingly soft, what the hell have I done, I just as well killed a-- a pigeon. 

 

In my minds eye I see my friends, sitting on their perches quietly. There's one missing. A falcon swooped down one afternoon, when I was at work, and plucked her right out of the sky. I tried to comfort them, saying things like 'she's in a better place now', and I reflected on the ridiculousness of spewing out all the things I've heard from movies and TV shows to a bunch of birds. But I could see that they understood. Despite our language barrier, they understood my soft, mournful voice. They knew I was just as sad as they were. 

 

Before I know it, I'm standing on my feet, shaking and unsteady. My wings are flapping erratically in an attempt to stay up. The wild-type pigeon is squinting, hopping back, his entire body straining to keep his chest away from the grass. 

 

"I'm sorry." I warble. Even if the pigeon can comprehend me, he can't hear me. He gave up on keeping his chest high; now he's laying down on the grass, puffed-up and shivering. Like a new addition to the aviary, one fearful eye is constantly trained on me.

 

The gash isn't as deep as I feared. It didn't slice into any key arteries. Still, blood loss is serious, and I kick into 'pet-keeper' mode. Pigeons can lose about 20 milliliters of their blood and still be 'safe'. Fat, dark-red drops are rolling off of his feathers, but nothing replaces them. The brunt of the bleeding came from the initial hit. With a sense of subdued happiness (though he is my enemy), I can see that he would survive.

 

Then, a small, nagging voice, straight from my stomach, says: Eat him

 

I ignore it. Instead, I stumble over to the bag. There was a loaf of bread still in there, right? Unfortunately, it was latched. I try to peck at it, but I can't aim and my beak misses. Again, it connects, but I can't get it around the clasp. Scratching doesn't work either. The fabric is too thick.

 

Eat him, the voice says, one more time. I ignore it, one more time. I'll find food another way. There's an entire forest behind me.

 

"There's seeds in there, if you can get to them." I say to the pigeon, and I start stumbling over to the woods.

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Jake: anybody, anybody please?

 

I've been in the pit for about an hour, at least that's what it felt like. All of a sudden, I see a blur; the blur was getting closer and clearer. It was a human! I tried to call for help, but yet again, only a hiss. the human descended into my pit and helped me up. "don't worry, I won't do anything to harm you." he called for his teammate to throw down the rope. i bit onto it, and just like that, I was pulled out. "on our way here, we say another turned getting hurt. it isn't safe here. we'll bring you to a safe location." they loaded me into a wagon attached to the human's truck.

 

we drove and drove, until all of a sudden we stopped. "Another one?" the driver sounded confused.I decided to look out of my wagon and then I saw it; a small, lizard-like thing. Without question, I jumped out of my wagon, and tried to greet the crimson lizard. It came out as only grunts, annoyingly. whether the lizard understood or not, I was unaware. Just then, the truck drove away.

 

Welp, just me and him now.

 

 

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Trebonth: Who's there? Or what's there?

 

I was going back to where I last have been to. Well, there can't be anything other wrong, I guess... just me as a lizard, maybe the noise of driving car being somehow occasional... It's just a question, how I wanted to spend time. I needed to understand myself in other way than self-mind reading! Then I arrived and saw... oh well, the pigeon clearly was bleeding, and it didn't surprise me. Maybe it's just its own fault? I glanced at the wild-living one. Some blood pooled around it. Disgusting, but the similar wound I've experienced in the fight. Oh well. Guess I had nothing to do, and the pack seemed like being locked. How would I open it though? With legs not in my line of sight and my mouth being the only one, I still wasn't sure if I could do it.

 

Wait, what's the car noise? Ack! I tried to swerve to a side to notice it's not near me, but like good chunk of distance from me. Still, it was a scary encounter, and I hoped that this won't happen again. Wait, what's the grunt? I looked around. A lizard, probably bigger than me. It rubbed me in somewhat... different way, like what was this stench coming off from it? I didn't flee, maybe because of remaining memories? The grunt made me curious. Had he been illiterate? Or does it have the similar past? I thought about it. The bigger one didn't seem like one dangerous. Nor would it probably eat me, right? I tried to greet it-oh, it still went out garbled. The intention was good, though, and I heard a curious hiss... from myself?

 

But the strange birdie was gone as well. Did it abandon me? I shouldn't think about that, I should think about what intention has it for me, though. If only I was sated... maybe I would be more focused, though.

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   Feeding Aegis was easy; all I did was knock over the food back in a vain attempt to move it, and picking it back up was so difficult I gave up and just left it there. It makes my emails look more believable, anyway. Then I half-stumbled, half-crawled into the living space - I didn't have a couch - pulled the remote out a box sitting under the TV - I didn't have a console either... - and stared blankly at it for a solid minute.

   I can't say that looking at a remote covered in black and grey buttons was any better than trying to type on my laptop. Knowing some of the symbols helped, but those were foggy too despite me being able to recognize pictures, and I never learned how to use half this thing anyway. In fact, I used it so little I couldn't even remember where the receiver button was. I remembered that the TV had side buttons as well, so I shifted over to it, but lucky me it's a sequence of those not-buttons that are seamless with the panel, so the only things designating them were some dark printed symbols that I of course couldn't read. Great.

   I sat back and stared that the TV, envisioning in my head, "So we have some breaking news about more cases of people Turning in the streets of Barcelona. A couple of these 'people' were caught and are being investigated, but one of them started flailing around and broke his cage and there was a very large struggle and then he ran away".... I don't really know how a reporter sounds. I barely watch TV. Just my luck, huh?

 

   I quickly decided that staring numbly at a black screen wouldn't help me at all. I hadn't eaten all morning and was starting to feel the effects of it, but pushed through it a little longer, frightened of what exactly this thing wanted to eat. I spent the time thinking and practicing moving a bit more, and no doubt frightened the carp out of my neighbors with all of the bumping and banging. It helped me learn a good way to stand by using a wall to support me, sitting up on my claws, and holding my primary arms out to the sides, but I was pretty embarrassed by it since I looked like a plucked chicken. Moving around... that just looked hilarious. Jumping was a lot more fun, but I quickly realized I had little room to do it since the slightest bob nearly sent me into the ceiling.

   The realization was quick: this thing could jump, and it liked jumping! Immediately I wanted to go outside and jump around a bunch, but this wasn't a retreat out in the wilderness; I was surrounded by buildings, busy streets and cars, all of which were full of people. It was tempting to just hide inside and suffer with breaking my pattern of eating regularly. Maybe if I wished hard enough I could make this thing a desert dweller and wouldn't need to eat for three months.

   God must have chuckled at the idea, because with each passing minute I kept growing hungrier and hungrier. In a weird way it reminded me of when I was a kid, not in that I wanted to eat more things, but that I always really wanted to eat specific things. I couldn't tell what this thing wanted though... not sugar, but sugar always sounds nice. Not really spicy. Not savory. Not bitter. Just like a.... clean flavor, but not water?

 

   As I deducted this weird creature's diet I became more perplexed, so I took the chance of eating something weird and awkwardly stood up to look into the refrigerator. Maybe something in there will give me some insight on what I want. After two cursory glances and some digging though, my appetite didn't change. I decided to switch to the cupboards, using the crystalline extensions on my primary arms to open them, but nothing jumped out at me in them, either. Except for the salt, but something about it didn't appeal to my stomach - assuming this thing even had a stomach - similar to the way someone with a paleo diet would scrunch up his nose and walk past cheap frozen dinners. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I guess this thing didn't like my brand of salt?

   What do you even want, anyway? I asked myself, letting my eyes glaze over the room. A sparkle of blue caught my eye and I spotted one of my decorations: a small copper wire tree decorated with polished stones, glued to a crystal base. I hobbled over to it, vainly trying to sink into the perception of the creature and figure out why it liked that thing. It wasn't just because it was pretty, that much I knew.

 

   It took several long seconds of me staring at that tree for me to realize that I wanted to nibble it. That sparked the idea I needed: rocks! This thing is a geovore!

   Holy crap that's so cool! I knew geovores were a thing! I thought excitedly. I immediately perked up, going back to my spice shelf where the salt was. I know where I have some minerals! I think this will work! Trying to coordinate my secondary arms, I worked a box under the shelf toward me, opening it up. The spices I hadn't unpacked; and there! Pure Himalayan salt! I only used it occasionally when I truly wanted it, because it's quite expensive compared to other-

   Before I knew it I was holding an empty bag. I stood in stunned silence for a second. What just happened? Did I lose time? I opened the bag and looked around in the tiny box that had held salt only a second earlier, jaws parting slightly, and I noticed the distinctive sharp taste of sodium inside. It wasn't unpleasantly strong though like when I was human. More mild and refreshing, like tangy mint. Dang, I didn't even have time to blink! There goes five bucks... All right, critter, I continued silently talking to myself, apparently you like salt. But that's all I had. I'll have to get more.

 

   The creature didn't care. It didn't even care if I had to leap over miles of traffic just to get to the nearest grocery outlet. Which sparked a pretty dumb idea... but it was better than rotting in my apartment and terrifying my cat, who I hadn't seen in a while.

   What did I have to lose anyway, right?

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Kierra: Enjoying an evening stroll in the park.

 

The park was nice this time of day; there were only a few people there so late, but that suited me. After a long day spent in a noisy city full of people, I could think of few better ways to relax and unwind than by taking a quiet walk by myself to observe the sights and sounds of nature. That was probably why I was so annoyed when the cell phone in my pocket started vibrating.

 

My frustration only grew when I saw that the call was from my parents. They had been calling me two or more times a day ever since I'd arrived in Spain. You might say I couldn't complain since they paid for my network coverage, but I'd really been looking forward to getting out on my own for the first time and this attempt to nursemaid me from a distance was casting a shroud over the trip. I didn't expect things would get any better once I was off to college, either. I would dodge the calls, but that would make everything worse once I eventually did pick up.

 

When I reluctantly pressed the "talk" button and held the phone up to my ear, I was surprised to hear my mother's voice frantically yelling at me, her voice too loud and her words too fast for me to fully comprehend. "Calm down, Mom, I can't understand what you're saying," I said, trying to keep my patience. In response to a query amounting to "hadn't I seen the news," I replied, "No, I haven't, I've been taking a nature walk in one of the city's park for the past hour or so, and I didn't bring my laptop." There was a brief pause, and I could tell my mother was relaying everything I'd said to my father, who was likely just behind her, listening intently.

 

I could hear a faint noise as if someone was putting their hand on the receiver, and then I heard my father's voice on the other end of the line, his voice grim as he explained to me that there had been news of a man, likely a Polish refugee, succumbing to the mysterious Warsaw syndrome in the very city I was currently staying in earlier this afternoon. My parents had wanted me to return home as soon as the Three Days' War and news of the initial transformations had broken out, but I had managed to placate them by reassuring them that all that was all the way over in Poland and I had no plans to leave Spain. Plus, I had to admit, part of me was a little intrigued at the idea of being able to become an animal, something that had always been one of my favorite fantasies as a child. It wasn't worth the chaos that seemed to have fallen over Poland during the last week, though, although I had only seen clips of the destruction inside the country on the news, and refugees gathered together in the public squares of the city when I went out. If Warsaw syndrome really had come to Barcelona,  than this was serious. I could not count on this being an isolated incident. "Dad," I told him, "look, I can't talk right now, it's almost night here and I'm outside. I'll call you as soon as I'm back in my room and we'll talk about everything there, okay? Promise." I was taking the situation seriously now and I could tell that my father realized it from the change in the tone of my voice. He agreed to let me go for now, not wanting me to be ambushed by some phantom attacker any more than he wanted me to succumb to a mysterious virus, and after a short series of farewells from both him and my mother I hung up the phone.

 

I knew that in a situation like this, my parents would only wait so long before they called me back, so, hitching the strap of the small backpack I was wearing, I turned around and started heading back towards the entrance of the park. In fairness, I would have needed to leave soon anyway as I really did need to get back before night fell, but the stress of the day that I had tried to chase away by coming here had returned in full force. It was always like this with my parents, and even though I knew they were genuinely trying to look out for my safety this time I couldn't help feeling a bit resentful for it. As I headed down the cobblestone path I used my phone to catch up on the news about Warsaw syndrome in the city, looking at grainy photos taken from cell phone video of a man shrinking and changing into a reddish . . . thing - what it was exactly couldn't be made out with the phone's poor resolution. An article below in several languages said an unidentified man had grabbed the vicitm and run off, and there was currently a search underway for them both. If you saw either individual, do not engage them, but immediately leave and alert the authorities. I sighed to myself. If more people changed, this place really was going to turn into another Poland. Could I even get a flight out of the country in time?

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