Air Express

by Terry © 1997

Part 1: The More Things Change...

Morning, June 17th.

The alarm goes off next to his bed. A hand reaches out from under the covers and slaps the snooze button. With a groan, the figure under the sheets sits up. He reaches for his glasses on the computer desk next to his bed and puts them on. Without a word, he grabs a change of clothes and plods up the stairs to the bathroom.

On the way up, he goes by the kitchen, where his dad is sitting at the table, drinking his coffee and flipping through some flyers. His dad is dressed in the green shirted uniform of the building supplies store he worked at.

"Morning Terry," he says to his son. The son gives a grunt and continues upstairs. His father smiles and finishes his coffee. After 18 years, he has learned that his son was not a morning person, and to try and get more than a grunt out of Terry before he had his shower was next to impossible. He puts the coffee cup in the dishwasher, grabs a folder from the table and leaves for work.

Terry reaches the bathroom, shuts the door and turns on the water in the shower. Undressing, he steps in and lets the water wake him up. Feeling civil now, he gets out of the shower, dresses and leaves the bathroom.

As he walks back down to his bedroom, he hears a faint beeping noise.

Shit! Forgot the alarm clock again! he thinks, breaking into a run to reach his room faster. He runs into the room and hits the off button. 7:30 is too early for me to get up, especially during the summer he thinks, looking at the clock which now reads 8:00. Better get going if I want to grab breakfast at Timmy's

He runs back upstairs to the kitchen and finds a notepad.


I'll bring the car back at noon,

Love, Terry.";

he jots down, and sticks the message on the door.

Looking out the window he sees dark clouds covering the sky and remembers that the forecast was calling for scattered showers during the day. Grabbing his coat and the book he was reading, he runs out of the house.

"See ya later, Big Guy," he says, patting the big Samoyed Husky who was standing beside the garage side door. He climbs into the car and starts the drive into work.

Ten minutes later, he pulls into the parking lot of the only mall in town. He parks the car near a light pole, between the Tim Horten's donut shop and the mall. Before he goes to the department store that anchors one end of the mall, he ducks into the donut shop for breakfast.

"Morning Mark," Terry says as he enters the mall with a take out cup of hot chocolate and a muffin in his hands.

"Morning Terry. You ready for the truck coming in today?" the assistant manager asks.

Terry puts his breakfast on the checkout counters. "Another truck? But we had trucks in last Tuesday and on Thursday. I'm up to my neck in stock back there as is!" he says.

"I know that, but there's nothing we can do about it. It's only 300 pieces though, so don't be too worried. I think the new rug display rack will be in this order too." Mark sips from his coffee cup and continues. "For today, I want you to get as much of that new stock checked off and out on the floor as you can. Concentrate on the hard lines so we can get some breathing room back there. Andy should be in any minute now, so he can help you out."

"Fine, fine, I'll do that." For about 15 minutes, then you'll be back there with another 'more important' task for me to do. < SIGH> Why did Robert have to take these two weeks off? Over 1000 pieces of stock already in, more coming in today and I'm still figuring out all the ins and outs of the check off routine. Better warn everyone to expect a lot of new stock on the floor today. he thinks to himself as he walks through the store to the staff room.

He gags slightly as he steps into the smoky room, but doesn't stop. There are only three people in the room; one older woman and two younger women. He sits at the table and starts eating his muffin.

"Hi everyone, hope you're ready for lots of new stock today." he says wearily between bites.

"What do you mean?" Beth, one of the younger women asks.

"Mark just told me that we've got another truck coming in this afternoon, so I need to get as much of the stuff we already have there out as I can."

"Good luck!" Amy, the other young woman says.

"Thanks, I'll need it," he finishes his 'breakfast' and leans back in his chair to relax before this hectic day started.

"Terry. Lights," Mark's voice says over the intercom. Taking the cue to get out on the floor, the girls get up and go to the time clock to punch in, while Terry enters the small electric room and turn on the rest of the floor lights before joining them on their trek to the front of the store.

"Shirley, I want you to cover ladies wear and shoes. Lynn will take over Lady's wear when she gets in at 10. Amy, you're on Cash 5, while you, Beth cover Men's wear and the back wall. You'll also be on Cash 2 if things get busy before Erin comes in. Terry, get that stock checked off and out onto the floor. I'll send Andy back to you as soon as he comes in" Mark orders as the workers approach him.

"Could I have the keys to the back door so I can get the garbage out first?" Terry asks quickly before the girls can say anything. Mark tosses him the key ring with the keys to the back door locks and turns to help the only other store worker, Isabelle, put the cash in the registers.

Terry walks down the crowded aisle in the back of the store, flicking on the light switches to light the overstock and layaway bins as he goes by. Finally he reaches the normally open stock area and sighs as he sees the mess.

Brown boxes are stacked high on the counter, against the wall and all over the floor. The only open paths are the ones leading from the back hall, the door to the store floor and the loading doors. The loading bay doors themselves were buried in empty boxes and garbage bags. He turns on the radio balanced precariously on a pile of dry dog food bags and starts fighting his way through the pile of garbage to reach the stock room door locks.

The garbage is quickly tossed into the bins outside of the store. Finally with some room to breathe in the stock room, Terry pulls the packing slips out of the cart and starts checking off the stock, for a few minutes.

"Terry! You back here Terry!?" a voice shouts out from the pile of stock near the back hallway.

I knew this would happen!, he thinks angrily, slamming the pen down on the cart. "Yeah, what do you need?" he shouts back to the voice.

"I need you to get some Winter pack away boxes down from up top!" The voice comes closer, and Terry sees that it's Shirley. "Mark just told me we need to send a bunch of shoes back to the warehouse tomorrow; and most of them have already been packed away. I've got the box numbers here for you."

"Never rains but it pours," he mutters under his breath. At that point, the rain showers that had been going on while he had been taking out the garbage erupt into a full fledged rain storm. Water seeps in through the small leaks in the roof, and drips down, landing dead on his head. "Hardy har har," he mutters again, looking up at where the drip came from and getting another one on his glasses.

"OK, where are these boxes?" he asks, wiping his glasses off on his t-shirt. He carefully steps around the piles of new stock and joins Shirley in the equally crowded back hall.

She consults the sheet of paper in her hand. "I need boxes 5 to 8, 10 and 17 now. I think they are all in this pile," She points at the boxes piled on top of the metal bins. The top of that row of bins was packed with boxes, but the bins next to it and the plywood boards that bridged the gap between the rows was relatively empty.

"I'll have them down in a few minutes," he says, eyeing the boxes and planning on which ones would need to be moved to get at the ones Shirley wanted.

"Be careful up there!" Shirley says as Terry starts climbing up the shelves. One metal shelf bends down under his weight, but he quickly gets off of it and clambers onto the plywood boards.

"Give me a second to make some room up he- ugh!," he says, feeling a wave of dizziness pass over him as he climbs around the clothing racks.

"Are you alright?" Shirley calls up after a moment.

He looks around him and realizes his vision is blurry. Must be the dust up here; clouding up my glasses, he says, taking them off to clean again. "What the-?!" he says quietly as he looks around and finds he can see perfectly. He puts it to the back of his mind as he remembers Shirley.

"Yeah, I'm fine. It was just a wave of dizziness. I probably climbed up here too fast or something." he shouts down to her, while putting his glasses on a couple of boxes behind him.

"That's funny, I just felt dizzy too. Probably just the dust." she replies.

"Could be," he says as he starts shoving the boxes around. This is when the second wave hits. "Heads up!" He shouts out as the dizziness causes him to drop the heavy box of Christmas pack-aways down to the floor.

"Are you OK, Shirley?" he calls down, peering over the edge to see the damage. What he sees shocks him. Shirley is still standing below him, but she now has large mouse ears, whiskers and white fur is running down her arms. She is staring at her arms, frozen in shock.

Terry grabs the edge of the bins and gets ready to climb down. While grabbing, he sees his own arms and nearly takes the fast route down to the concrete floor. He closes his eyes to the view and carefully feels his way down the bins until he is standing on the floor. With the solid ground beneath him, he takes another look at his arms.

His arms are covered in green scales. His finger nails have been replaced by small, slightly curved claws. He reaches up to his face and feels it. As far as he could tell, his face was also changing. He hadn't realized it before, but all his hair had disappeared. His chin seemed different as did his nose, but he couldn't figure out how different. His ears were definitely smaller, and his eyes seemed to be positioned slightly differently. His head seemed to be covered in the same scales as his arms, but he couldn't tell if he was feeling the scales on his palms or on his face. Worry about this later. First thing we need to do is get Shirley and yourself out of here and to someplace where you can get help... But what place can offer help to people turning into a mouse and a lizard? Tell Mark first, maybe he can help us.

"Come on Shirley, we need to get out of here."

"B-But I can't go out there looking like this!" she cries out, rediscovering her voice, but still not taking her eyes off of herself. This is when the next wave hits.

On Shirley, the changes aren't quite as obvious. Her mouth and nose had extended into a small muzzle, and by the way she wiggled, it seemed like her chest and back were growing fur. A small, thin tail sneaks out behind her.

On Terry, the changes are more extreme. He grimaces in discomfort as leathery wings grow out of his back, just below his shoulders. They stretch, then rip his t-shirt. The scales race down his chest and back, and a small tail grows out.

The two look at each other. "You're right, we can't go out there looking like this." Terry finally says. "Here, come with me, I've got an idea." He grabs Shirley's hand and pulls her out of the bin aisle and into the back hallway. His new wings nearly get caught on the edge of the bins, but he manages to hold them against his back and make it down the tight hall. He leads her to another set of bins where the overstock bedding supplies were kept. "Pick a sheet or blanket set and wrap it around yourself," he tells her, grabbing a green blanket and ripping the package open with his claws. Hmmm, built in can openers. Neat!

"I don't think I should take the Disney sheets," Shirley says a wry grin seeming to show on her muzzle. She grabs a plain blanket and starts wrapping herself in it. He smiles back at her and is shocked when she recoils in terror. He rubs his tongue against his teeth and discover that they are now very pointed.

"Sorry," he says, shutting his mouth tightly and he continues to arrange the blanket into a hood to cover his head. Shirley arranges her blanket in a similar fashion and the two make their way to the main stock room.

In the stock room, the radio is still on, but it isn't music. The morning show hosts are talking, telling a story similar to what Shirley and Terry had been going through. The two workers stop to listen.

"--is is Barry," the male announcer starts.

"And Anna," his co-announcer pipes in.

"Coming to you live with the major story of the day. Take it Anna." Barry says.

"Thank you Barry. Well, without a doubt, the big story of the day is this Change. It seems that starting around 8 o'clock Eastern, people suddenly started changing into animals. How and why are still unknown. Reports are still coming in, but it seems like this is at least continent wide, perhaps even worldwide. Thankfully, pre-adolescent kids don't seem to be aff-"

The announcer's sudden stop gives Terry and Shirley a slight warning before the next surge.

Terry feels this surge rush down his legs. "YEOW!" he shouts out as his feet grow and are cramped by his sneakers. He doesn't notice his wings and tail have grown larger nor his head is more lizard like. "I hope this is the last wave; I don't think I can take much more of this!" he moans, sitting on a box to pull his sneakers off. After much struggling, he finally gets them and his socks off to reveal green, scaled feet. "AHHHH, That's better. Are you all right, Shirley?" he asks the mouse lady. This surge hadn't changed her too much, just enhancing some of her new 'features' on her head and extending her tail. The radio announcers do not come back on.

"I'm fine; I... I don't think I changed as much this time.... Has everyone changed?"

"I don't know. From that radio report, it would seem so, but I won't believe it till I see it with my own eyes. Let's go find Mark and find out what to do."

Disguises forgotten, he leads the woman through the stock room to the door on to the sales floor. This door leads out onto the furniture section. Their view of the rest of the store is blocked by rows of shelves that form the edges of this section, but they can clearly hear noises, mostly human but some animal, coming from near the front. They walk through the section and finally get a clear view of what happened.

It looks like a zoo at the front of the store. Even from the back of the store, Terry could see a wide range of animals, both local and exotic. He could see a moose, a horse, a flamingo with pink wings coming out of his (her?) back, a crocodile and some other animals he couldn't quite identify. He and Shirley quickly head to the front.

"Where's Mark?" Terry shouts out as he gets close to the crowd. A family is on the edge of the crowd, the mother (the flamingo morph) was holding her unchanged child close to her. Her husband (the crocodile, or maybe alligator) was standing at a slight distance away, but still close to his wife.

"That you Terry?" another voice comes from near the center of the crowd. The crowd parts to reveal a hairy human holding something that is struggling in his arms. Terry does a double take and realizes that the human was part actually part chimp or some other monkey; he was just changed to a much lesser degree than Terry or Shirley had.

"Andy? Where's Mark?" Terry asks, reading the name tag on the remains of Andy's T-shirt.

"Right here. He seems to have completely turned into a weasel or a ferret or something. I was talking to him when the change started and watched him change completely. I don't know why, but I grabbed him before he could get away and I've held him ever since. What should I do?" Andy's voice starts out calm, but it becomes more frantic as he goes on.

"I- I'm not sure. Where are Isabelle? Or Lynn? Surely they must have some ideas what to do..." Terry asks, trying to ignore some images that were forming in the back of his mind.

"Isabelle's numb, with shock I guess. Lynn's with her in the cafeteria." Andy replies, shifting his grip on his squirming former boss.

"Well, I guess the first thing to do would be to get the doors closed, and get these people out; put someone on cash in case they want to pick up anything while they're here..." Terry searched his mind for any of the emergency routines that might apply here, and comes up dry; there was nothing in the companies Rules and Regulations that covered unexpected transformation into animals.

What the hell am I doing? I'm just a part time stock clerk! There are at least 5 other people who've worked here longer than me, 3 of those full timers! How did I suddenly become the boss?!? he thinks to himself desperately. The squirming weasel in Andy's arms nearly gets loose, jumping towards Terry. Mark seems to freeze in mid air just before Andy recaptures him, but Terry doesn't notice; the images he'd been trying to block out suddenly break through.

"My family; I need to find out what's happened to them," he mutters under his breath as he shoves his way through the crowd and out into the mall. Mom and Ash are too far away, but Dad's just across the road. I need to know! he thinks; his vivid imagination supplying the images of his dad standing behind the Service desk at the building supplies store and disappearing behind it as he changed into a weasel like Mark.

Terry shoves people out of the way as he runs out of the mall into the parking lot. A transport truck had stopped just outside the doors. Without thinking, Terry leaps onto the hood of the truck, climbs to the top of the truck and jumps off. His wings spread instinctively to catch the air to glide on. With the image of his father behind the Service desks still clear in his mind; Terry feels something click in his mind and everything disappears.

Everything is dark around Terry. He turns his head frantically, but he can't see anything around him. Subconsciously, he can feel something searching, but he can't tell what it is, nor what it is searching for. Terror begins to creep into his mind when suddenly light returns to his world. Terry finds himself gliding down the center aisle of a store. Paint cans, wall paper and plumbing fixtures pass by on either side of him. He looks ahead, just in time to crash head on in the lawn swing that was set up on display. The more comforting blackness of unconsciousness descends on him.

"Terry! Terry! Wake up! Are you all right? Please be all right!" a familiar voice cuts through the cobwebs of Terry's mind. He feels something cool on his forehead.

He opens his eyes and sees a Samoyed husky standing over him. "What are you doing here, Chimo?" he groans, lifting a hand up to the cloth on his forehead.

"Terry, it's me! Your dad!" 'Chimo' says. Terry recognizes his father's voice, even with the slight growl to it.

Terry sits up and feels his bed move. He realizes that he was on the garden swing he had crashed into. "What happened?" he asks, holding his head in his hands to try and stop the pounding.

"We were hoping you could tell us. You appeared out of nowhere, gliding down the aisle and crashing into this swing. Good thing you still had your pants on, otherwise I'd never have found out it was you." his dad grins down at him, handing Terry's wallet back.

"I don't know what happened. I was in the store, Andy was showing me Mark and all I could think about was getting to you, to find out if you were OK. I ran out of the mall, jumped into the air and everything went black on me...." Terry looks up at his father and gives a small laugh. "I guess it's a good thing we got you all those books on Samoyeds!" he laughs out. His father looks down at himself and joins Terry's laughter.

"Is Terry alright?" someone asks from behind Terry.

"He seems fine, Gail. A little shaken up, like all of us, but still with us." his father replies.

Terry twists around and sees a cougar-lady behind him. It reminds him that there was something else he needed to know. "Dad, have you talked to mom yet?" he asks.

"I haven't had a chance to. Right after the change started, Rick lost control of the forklift and smashed it into the platforms out back. Mike's holding them up now while we try to rebuild the supports." his father answers.

"Lloyd, don't bother trying. The phones are out of order. I've been trying to call home, but I can't get a line out. I think the phones are overloaded." Gail supplies.

Terry stands up and nearly collapses on the floor. He catches himself before his father can help him. "I'm OK, I'm just still a little dizzy I guess, and a little hungry; I didn't have much of a breakfast."

"Gail, could you show Terry my locker. He can have my lunch in there. The store is closed, so we are all going to try and get home as soon as we get the platforms fixed." Lloyd says. "I'd better get back there and help!" With that, he runs out the doors to the warehouse and runs over to the people working on propping up a sagging platform.

Terry walks slowly to the door and watches his father join them. He can see that most of the weight seems to be held by an elephant man. Must be Mike. Wow! He must really be strong now! he thinks. The elephant man sees Terry at the door and lets go with one hand to wave at him. He raises his trunk to the platform, then he lets go with the other hand.

"Look Terry! No hands!" his voice faintly comes through the door. Then he lowers his trunk. The platform shudders and lowers slightly, but stays up. Terry blanches as he realizes that there was nothing holding that end up.

"Freaky isn't it? But that's the only reason there's still a platform to keep up!" Gail says, standing next to Terry. She waves at Mike as he reaches up to grab the platform again. "It looked like that thing was going to collapse and crush Rick, when Mike saw it. The next thing we knew, it was frozen in space. Mike's been holding it ever since. I guess he's telekinetic now, or something." She leads Terry away from the door and into the staff room. She opens Lloyd's locker and removes the lunch."Here, eat this. It looks like you need it." she says, handing the bag to Terry.

Terry opens the bag and removes the sandwich. At first, he is uncertain about eating this food with his new body, but the smells soon reach his nose and convince him otherwise. He tears into the food ravenously. Gail sees how fast he eats his father's sandwich and goes to another locker and hands him her lunch.

"It looks like you really need this." is her only explanation. Terry ignores her words and digs into the food. Finally, the edge is taken off of his hunger.

"Still hungry?" Gail asks.

"<BURP> Excuse me!" Terry covers his mouth in surprise before answering her question. "A little, but the worst is over. I don't think I'll be going into a feeding frenzy or anything like that."

"That's good, I wouldn't want you trying to eat me or anyone else here." She looks him over. "Do you have any idea what you are? A pterodactyl or something perhaps?"

"Aren't those animals extinct?" Terry asks.

"Well, we've got a triceratops out there who would disagree with you." Gail replies.

Terry shakes his head, stands up and looks at his own body. It is completely covered in small, green scales, that were lighter on his front than on his back. His fingers seem shorter, and end in curved claws. His toes, on the other hand are longer then before, bringing them up to about the same size as his fingers. They too ended in the same type of claws as his fingers. While examining his feet, he made another discovery; his legs are shorter than before. As an experiment, he got down on his hands, and realizes his legs were now short enough to keep his body nearly level on all fours. Deciding to put that discovery out of his mind for the moment, he turns his attention to his tail. His tail, he discovers, sticks out the top of his pants. It starts off fairly thick near his body, but it thins as it nears the end of its 4 foot length, and it often seemed to move with a mind of its own..

He extends his wings to their full 5 foot lengths and examines them. His wings come out from under his arms. Their leading edge is bony, but light, while their sails are just skin. The wing sails are connected to his body down his back and stop just above his tail. They look like bat wings, only without the fingers. The only support the wing sails have is from the light bones on the leading edge and where it connected to his body. He moves them a little and feels them catch the air, but they don't give him much lift. Must be a glider, I guess, he thinks. He lowers his wings, watching them fold like a fan on his back.. He notices that his wing tips nearly reach the ground when he is standing. Wondering how he sat with those things on his back, he sits down again, and sees them extend slightly back and out so the tips stay above the ground.

There is a small mirror over the sink in the room. Terry walks over to it, noticing that his tail forces him to lean forward slightly. He looks at his face in the mirror and stares. There seems to be nothing human about it, beyond it's basic shape. All of his hair is gone; replaced by the same scales that covered his body. There is a mark on his forehead where he had banged his head when he crashed. His eyes are still in the same place, but they are now yellow, with dark slits. His ears have completely disappeared, replaced by two small holes on the side of his head. His nose and mouth have extended slightly and merged into one snout. He opens his mouth and rediscovers that most of his teeth are now pointed. He sticks out his tongue and sees that it is now forked.

"I don't think I'm a Pterodactyl, or any of the other flying dinos. My head is shaped wrong, and I don't think any of those flying reptiles had arms and wings." Terry finally says.

"That may be, but it looks like some people who turned into birds grew an extra set of wings while they kept their arms. Perhaps you've done the same."

"That could be it, I guess we won't know for sure until we figure out what I am." Terry spreads his wings slightly and looks at them in the mirror. "What exactly happened?" he asks.

"To us? I don't know. Q 99 went off the air soon after the last surge, and we can't find any other stations."

"I realize that. I meant to me. I somehow went from the Mall entrance, across the parking lot, the road, the parking lot here and got in here in the blink of an eye!"

"I don't know. I saw your crash myself, and I still don't quite believe my eyes. You appeared near the ceiling of the store literally out of thin air. No holes in the ceiling, no sudden opening of the doors, nothing at all."

Terry leaves out of the staff room and walks back to the doors of the warehouse. Everyone is still busy working there. He can see a robin, with wings on his back, holding a 4 by 4 post while a moose cuts through it. His dad is busy helping a Poodle spike another post in place. The elephant is still holding the platform steady, with a bit of help from a triceratops. He remembers his coworkers that he had left rather abruptly. Now that he knew his father was alright, and judging by everyone else in here, chances were good his mother and sister was fine too, he decided to go back to his coworkers.

"Tell my dad that I'll wait for him over at the mall!" he shouts back to Gail as he runs to the front doors of the store. He reaches the outside and stops dead in his tracks.

While he was inside, it seemed like everyone else was trying things out. The traffic had picked up on the road, each car driven by an animal-person; many of them scrunched up awkwardly in their seats. He did a double take as a car drove by with it's sun roof open and the driver's giraffe head sticking out of it. Then his eyes went to the sky, where he saw the strangest flock of birds he'd ever seen. In the air over the town, he can see humanoid pigeons, robins, sparrows, hawks, pelicans and other bird types he couldn't even recognize. Most seemed to be flying with the wings they have on their backs, like he had, but there were a few who didn't seem to have wings at all who were flying. Over towards the downtown area, he could see a cow morph running through the clouds. Joining in those aerial aerobatics, there were numerous normal birds.

Terry spreads his own wings, looks at them and then back up into the air. "What the heck, what do I have to lose?" he says aloud and starts to look around for something he could take off from. The highest climbable thing in sight was the diesel flatbed truck that the store used for deliveries. He quickly clambers up the side of the vehicle, and looks around him. A breeze cuts around the side of the building, and instincts he never knew he had take over. He opens his wings out fully and leaps. The breeze catches his wing sails, pushing him up further into the sky.

He lets the wind carry him down Connell road towards the center of town. He doesn't gain enough altitude to do much more than clear most of the trees, but it is high enough to see the town spread out below him. The downtown area, where the Meduxnekeag river met the St John, is busy, with people walking around and people driving around and everyone rubbernecking.

I wonder what caused this? It doesn't seem natural, that's for sure. Almost seems like something I'd read on that TSA I just joined... he thinks to himself as he glides down the road, his body moving by instincts he never had before to find the best updrafts to extend the glide as long as possible.

As he approaches the town square, people start to notice him and point. Terry waves back at them, until he realizes he was about to land in the middle of town.

Oh great, how am I gonna get back to the mall now? he thinks as he drifts lower. He's about to aim himself to land in front of the pharmacy, when he feels the mental CLICK again as everything goes black around him again. Once again, he feels something in his subconscious searching for something, and a few long moments later, he is above the mall again. Realizing he's coming down, fast, he aims for the grassy shoulder of the road that runs beside the mall, and lands hard, on hands and feet. "I really need to work on my landings," he moans shaking his head. Standing up, he brushes off the dirt and looks to the air where he had reappeared.

"How the hell did I get back here?" he mutters. " Could I have transported myself... Nah, you've been reading too much Sci Fi again. Just wait until things calm down and I'm sure some logical explanation for all this will be found...." He walks to the mall entrance and reenters the department store. The mall itself was nearly deserted, though it looked like some workers were still around, closing up the stores. The drug store at the other end of the store was still open, with a few customers inside.

"Terry! You're back!" Andy shouts out from the cafeteria. The store, like the mall, was nearly deserted. Everyone was sitting down in the booths, sipping coffee. It looked like Andy had put Mark in one of the dog carriers from the pet section and left it on the checkout counter. Terry glances at the caged weasel and quickly averts his eyes. Even though he was fairly certain his mother and sister were fine, seeing Mark in the cage raised some doubts in his mind that he did not want to dwell on.

"Sorry I ran out on you; I just had to find out how my dad was...." Terry starts, carefully keeping his eyes away from the cage as he walks over to the cafeteria.

"Hey, no problem, I know what you mean. If my parents were close enough, I would've gone too. So, what's your dad?" Andy hops over the back of the booths and grabs Terry's hand. He then pulls him to the group. "We're just waiting for Mr. K to get here, then we're going."

"My dad's a Husky. He's the spitting image of Chimo... Mr. Keenan's coming? How do you know that?" Terry asks in surprise. Last he had heard, the store manager had been up north at the store in Grand Falls.

"He managed to get through to his wife, who came out here and told us." Andy said.

"Oh. Any idea what he is?"

"No idea, his wife didn't say. That reminds me, I think we need to do some introductions." The change seemed to have left Andy full of energy, now that the worst of the shock was over with. He stands on the seat of the booth and starts pointing.

"That's Carol and Marion," he says, pointing at a low degree raccoon and a mid degree seal. Both seemed to be taking the change well; they were sipping their coffees and talking up a storm.

"Then there's Amy, Beth and Erin." A deer, a cow and a frog. Amy and Beth seemed to be taking it well, but Erin was having problems. Beth and Amy were trying to comfort her the best they could.

"And finally, there's Shirley, Lynn and Isabelle;" a mouse, a chicken and a horse. They were sitting separately from everyone else, talking quietly among themselves.

Terry waves to everyone and turns to talk to Andy again. He is interrupted by barking outside of the doors to the store. Everyone looks over and sees a terrier barking at the door. Andy hops over the back of the booth again and opens the door. The dog slips through between his legs, and with a brief flash of light, the dog changes to a mid-degree morph.

"I just wanted to tell you we just got the satellite dish working again at Stereo Plus, and we're picking up the news, in case you're interested in seeing it." the man says. His news given, he changes back to a dog with another flash of light and slips out of the still open door.

"Did we just see what I thought we just saw?" Amy finally breaks the stunned silence.

"I don't know. Did you just see a man change completely into a dog and back?" Andy says slowly, shutting the door and watching the dog run down the mall to the tv/stereo store. Everyone but Erin, gets up and joins him at the door.

"I guess the mall will need to change it's no pets policy." someone says with a nervous laugh. The mall hallway is filling with animal people as workers and left-over customers converge on the store. "Come on, we might as find out what's going on."

"I'm going to wait here for Mr. Keenan, but if the rest of you want to go, go ahead. I don't think we'll be opening again today. If the phones are working tomorrow, call in and see if we need you." Isabelle says, moving back to the cafeteria, "Oh yeah, Terry, Andy, you two should come in tomorrow. That second call that came in was from the trucking company. Today's load was canceled, but they say they can get it in tomorrow."

"I don't think I should leave Erin alone right yet. Amy and I are going to drive her home and try and help her." Beth says quietly as Amy goes back and gently pulls Erin to her feet. Terry can see that both her hands and feet are now webbed, and her walk has a definite hop to it. While he is watching, a fly flies past her head. Automatically, she shoots out a long tongue to nab it, but before she swallows it, a look of disgust crosses her face and she spits it back out.

"OK, Keep an eye on Mark, would you Isabelle?" Andy shouts back. Isabelle nods while the rest of the staff slip out of the door and head to the stereo store.

Terry stays near the back of the crowd gathered around the big screen TV mainly to keep an eye out for his father, but also to keep his wings from been trampled on. On the screen, he recognizes the ATV newsroom, but the crowd is too loud for him to hear what's been said. The screen blurs, then clears, and a string of curses is heard from the store room in the back of the store.

"Don't touch that again!" the voice shouts from the back. A figure backs out of the store room, and turns to face the crowd. It is obvious that the is a fish of some type, but he isn't very changed.

He shrugs his shoulders at the crowd staring at him. "Can I help it if I'm an electric eel?" he says with a wry grin on his relatively unchanged face. Without thinking, he puts his hand down on a keyboard which explodes in a flash of sparks. The crowd gives a nervous laugh, and leaves the eel-man plenty of room.

On the now clear TV screen, the anchorman, who is an owl, appears to be introducing some clips. He disappears from the screen as pictures of traffic jams on the major highways in Halifax are shown. There doesn't appear to be any accidents, just abandoned and slow moving cars tying traffic up. Police, Fire fighters and other volunteers are shown shoving some cars to the side of the road, and trying to catch the animals that were inside. Bird people flying in the sky are shown, as well as the Concorde coming in for an emergency landing at the Halifax airport. A few living dinosaurs and a wooly mammoth are shown before the scene returns to a normal owl.

With a flash, the owl-announcer returns. Terry and the crowd move forward to hear the explanation.

"--so far have no idea how this change to a normal animal take place. It seems that many people have shown this ability, and most seem to be able to return to the form they were in after the last surge. This seems to be the most common of the extraordinary powers that people have been exhibiting. Other powers seen so far have included..." the picture changes to scenes around Halifax.

"...super strength..." (Scene of a winged Canada Goose punching his fist through a brick wall.)

"...invisibility..." (Scene of a lizard-woman disappearing.)

"...and multiple forms." (Scene of a sparrow man changing to a full robin, then a robin-man then a chickadee man and back to his first form, this man had wing-like arms instead of the extra set of limbs other bird morphs had.)

"Scientists are currently studying this phenomenon, trying to determine the cause. Police and other emergency services personal are asking people to remain calm and to try and keep the phone lines clear for emergencies until things settle down. This change appears to be worldwide, and to have affected everyone except pre-adolescents. Adolescents do seem to be affected, but to a lesser degree than adults. In other news, Mayor Woodside, of Fredericton has made a statement asking for everyone to remain calm. Mayor Woodside was in Moncton this week attending a meeting with the other mayors of the cities in the Atlantic Canada region. A press conference is scheduled for today at 3. There has been no word yet from the provincial premiers, nor from Ottawa, on this day of Change ...." Terry moves back, away from the crowd, his mind running at light speed.

Perhaps I really can teleport myself! he thinks, turning his back to the TV. He sees a familiar white furred head on the other side of the crowd. "Dad! Over here!" he shouts out, moving around the edge. He finally reaches his father.

"There you are. I wondered where you'd gone." Lloyd says, moving to meet Terry. "Where did you go?"

"Flying," Terry says, giving his father a wide, toothy grin. He snaps his mouth shut as he remembers Shirley's earlier reaction to that typeof smile. His father looks at him, a worried look in his eyes. "I'll explain on the way home. Did you see the news? I think I've got one of those extra powers too! Are you ready to go now? I want to find out how mom's doing." he quickly adds. His shock over the change and Mark's complete change was now replaced by excitement over the possibilities of soaring in the air and transporting where ever he wanted to go. Others will be working on returning things to normal, so I might as well enjoy this while it lasts! he thinks.

His father shakes his head and starts walking to the door of the mall.

Terry follows behind. "So, do we take the car or the old puddle jumper or both home?"

"Unless you can figure out some way to fit in the car, I think we'll both need to take the truck home. I parked just out here." his father replies, holding the mall doors open. Terry stops just outside and thinks for a minute, and decides that fitting in the car would not be easy..

"The puddle jumper it is," he says, following his father to the truck that his father used for running around town. He hops into the back, while his father climbs into the driver's seat. The seat back has been lowered as far as it could go, to accommodate his father's tail.

With a jolt, the old truck starts up and pulls onto the road. Terry watches the people in other cars and trucks, seeing the wide range of changes that had happened to people. He waves at other people who were catching rides in the backs of pick up trucks. The skies are still full of bird-men, but not as many people as before.

"So, what's this about you flying? And teleporting?" his father asks, opening the rear window so he can talk to Terry.

"Oh, it was great! The wind rushing by you, the only thing holding you up being your wings!" Terry says excitedly. He spreads his wings slightly to make his point and is nearly taking off the back of the truck. He refolds them quickly, and continues. "I just climbed on top of the delivery truck and jumped off. Something seemed to take over then, and I was soaring in the sky as easily as I walk. I wasn't flying as high as the birds, but high enough to be above the trees, and I loved it! Though the landings leave a lot to be desired." Terry looks ruefully down at the small scrapes on his hands from his rough landing.

"Hmmm, and teleporting? I guess that would explain how you appeared out of thin air at the store..."

"Well, You saw those people with the powers on TV, right? Well, I've got one too. I haven't quite figured it out much yet, but it seems like all I do is picture where I want to go, and then something goes 'CLICK!' in my mind, and BOOM! I'm there. It's just like those dragons of Pern I'm always reading, only without the coldness." he replies, sticking his head in the window so his father can hear better.

"Well, just be careful with that, you don't know what is going on. For all we know, we could start changing back by suppertime, and if you're up in the air or something when it happens, then where would you be? A bloody mess on the ground, that's where."

"Uh huh," Terry replies, not paying much attention to his father. Instead, he is intently watching the road ahead; an idea forming in his head.

The truck is approaching the Trans-Canada highway bridge over the Meduxnekeag river and valley. Terry looks at the long drop to the river and hears a voice in his head saying "Do it!". Pulling his head out of the truck cab, he waits until the truck reaches the middle of the bridge and jumps out of the back and over the side of the bridge. He spreads his wings and catches the wind whipping around the bridge pylons. Using this wind, he glides up over the deck of the bridge and sees his father standing at the bridge railing, shaking in fright. The truck had skidded slightly when his father had slammed on the brakes, and was now blocking both lanes of traffic on the bridge. Terry glides down to the deck and lands on his hands and feet, adding to the tears in his jeans in the process. {Not bad, but I must be able to do better than that!} he thinks to himself.

"Don't you ever do that again! You scared me half to death, jumping off the back of the truck like that! You could've been killed!" his father shouts out, running over to Terry.

"I'm sorry Dad, I don't know what came over me. I just saw all that open air down there and couldn't resist jumping."

"We'll talk about this when we get home. Now get back on the truck!" Lloyd yells, still shaken by the antics his son had pulled.

Terry feels a surge of rebellion well up inside of him. He did not want to go riding in the back of the truck again, when he could be gliding over the river. "We're close enough to home from here. I'm going to fly home. Bet yah I beat you there!" With that, he jumps off the side of the bridge again, his wings spread out instinctively to catch the air currents. His father glares as Terry glides up the river valley. Still fuming mad at this sudden streak of rebellion in his son, he climbs back in the truck and starts the rest of the drive home.

Terry glides along the river valley, feeling the wind rush along his scales and his jeans. He soon passes the old gravel quarry along the banks of the river, and realizes that he'd gone to far; to get home, he should've left the river valley long before the quarry. He looks around for a way out of the valley, but the sides are too steep to glide over. He tries flapping his wings, and ends up losing altitude. Instincts take over and lead him to updrafts which lift him back up to his previous height, but not much higher.

Well, I guess I might as well try and teleport. he thinks.

He starts to form a picture of the kitchen in his house and quickly abandons it. The kitchen wasn't big enough to land in, even with its cathedral ceilings. He changes his mind picture to a view of the house exterior. Once it is clear in his mind, he starts wishing he was there. With a now familiar CLICK, his world goes black.

Subconsciously, he feels something searching. The thing seems very animal like, which scared Terry slightly. For now, it seemed content to guide his teleports, but what about later? A few moments later, light returns to his world, and he is gliding in, close to the roof of the third floor of the house. Aiming for the peak, he circles once and grabs the peak with his hands and feet while folding his wings against his back. Best one yet! he thinks, smiling to himself.

Still on all fours, he carefully walks down the steep, shingled roof. For the first few seconds, the shingles seem very hot under his hands and feet, but they quickly change to just pleasantly warm. Cold blooded? I guess I'd better look into that! he thinks, adding it onto his mental list of things to find out about his new body. Topping this list is "What am I?", followed closely by "Can I change into animal form?" and "Do Iwant to be able to change into animal form?"

He reaches the edge of this roof and jumps down the few feet to the garage roof peak. He glances down to the road at the end of the driveway and sees his dad's truck about to turn in. Chimo is standing at the end of his chain, ready to welcome dad home. Terry quickly scampers down the back of the garage roof and jumps off of the edge, using his wings as air brakes. He lands on the ground on his feet and runs around the back corner of the house to the door onto the porch. He opens the door, runs through the family room and stops at the corner of the hall, facing the door to the garage, panting slightly. The door squeals as it opens, revealing the white furred figure of his father.

"Told yah I'd beat you home!" Terry says, giving his father a toothy smile and feeling his tail twitch uncontrollably.

"I'll talk to you later. Have you seen your mother or sister yet?" his father asks gruffly, still angry at his son, but more concerned about the rest of his family. He shoves past Terry and bounds upstairs before Terry can say no. Terry follows his father, ignoring Chimo, who is barking furiously at the door to be let in.

Voices come from the master bedroom as Terry reaches the open door. He enters the room, and stops at the door. His father is standing in front of the bed, hugging someone. His body blocks the person such that all Terry can see are yellowish talons on the floor and across his father's back. Terry glances over to the other person in the room, standing near the window, and does a double take. It is his sister, but she is normal. After a second look, he notices that she isn't exactly normal. Her ears are pointier, and her eyes seem different, more feline, but she still looked like the same person he had booted out of the computer room last night so he could get on the net.

"Terry?" Ashley says questioningly, looking up at him, and he realizes that his sister's eyes were now slitted, like a cats. The couple separates to look at him, and Terry finally sees what his mother, Gloria, had become.

His mother is covered in gray and black feathers, with a small beak. Her arms had turned mostly into wings, like the man on TV. He recognizes the bird his mother had become as the Chickadee, a bird that was very common in the area.

"Hi Ash. Interesting day, isn't it?" Terry says, breaking the silence. He is smothered by his mom's feathers as she grabs him in a hug.

"Oh! You're all right!" she says, still holding him tightly. "When all this changing started..."

"I know mom... I know," he mutters quietly.

"Terry? What are you?" his sister asks, tugging on his wings.

Terry pulls away from his sister. "I have absolutely no idea, sis. All I really know, is that these wings aren't just for show."

"What do you mean?" his mom asks, looking surprised.

"Your son her nearly gave me a heart attack, jumping off of the back of the truck and off of the bridge while we were crossing the creek; That is what he means," Lloyd says, glaring at his son.

"I knew what I was doing,... mostly..." Terry replies, proudly.

His mother collapses down on the bed, shocked. His father sits down beside her, wrapping his arm around her comfortingly. His sister looks at him in surprise and a touch of jealousy.

"You... jumped... off of ... a bridge?" his mother finally says. Terry nods his scaley head yes. "Was the truck moving?" He nods his head slowly.

"Cooool!" Ashley says.

"What the hell were you thinking?!?! You could've been killed!" his mother blows up at him. Terry paused, stunned. He had been expecting this to happen, but it still had caught him off guard.

"Well, if I got into any trouble, I could've just teleported myself out of the way," Terry replies slowly.

"You can teleport too?!" Ashley says, even more amazed than before.

"Ashley, leave us alone for a moment." Gloria says quietly, in her 'don't mess with me' voice. Ashley leaves the room, muttering quietly to herself.

His mother just sits on the bed quietly, a debate running through her mind. She takes a long look at Terry and, with a sigh, decides on what she wants to say. "Look, I know you are 18, hell, you'll be going off to university in a few months, and I can't keep telling you what to do. I know there is probably no way we could stop you from flying or teleporting or whatever else you can do, so I won't tell you to. But at least promise me this, please be careful when you're doing it." his mother says after some time. Terry let out a sigh of relief and goes to hug his mom.

"Thanks mom! I will" he says, laughing a little in relief.

"One more thing... No more jumping out of moving vehicles."

"I'll try mom, but I can't really guarantee it." He replies, relieved that his parents seemed to accept his abilities.

"Come on, lets go see if the phones have cleared up yet." She says getting up and walking down to the kitchen.

She picks up the phone and starts dialing, while Terry takes a jug of juice out of the fridge and drains it.

"Nothing, all the lines are still busy...." she says, hanging up the phone.

"Well, maybe they'll clear up later.... Do you mind if I go out for awhile?" Terry asks, already heading for the door.

"Sure, go ahead. Do you need the car?" Gloria asks, out of habit.

Terry stops and looks back. "Uh, mom, I don't know if you realized this, but for one thing, I don't really need cars anymore, and secondly, the car is still at the mall." he says, tailing twitching uncontrollably.

"Oh, right... Well you be careful out there!" his mother shouts back.

Terry waves from the top of the stairs, and jumps off, spreading his wings. The stairs weren't high enough for him to get much air, but it was enough for him to get high enough to teleport. He didn't know how he knew it was high enough, but it felt right. After another short period of absolute darkness with the shadowy thing searching in the back of his mind, he reappears where he wanted to, gliding high over the local high school. Where he is actually going is a house down the road from the school.

He glides down lower towards the lawn of the house. He tries to land on his feet, but he ends up stumbling and skidding across the lawn on his stomach. That didn't work well.... he thinks, standing up and looking at the grass stains on his jeans. Note to self: Get a good pair of gloves and maybe kneepads... he thinks, looking at the palms of his hands, which were scrapped nearly raw from his rough landings.

He walks up to the door of the house and rings the bell.

"Just a minute!..." a voice calls out. A low degree squirrel morph opens the door.

"Uh, hi, Mrs. O'Brian." Terry says.


"Is Russll in?"

"Yes he is. Who should I say is calling?" she says, still keeping the door nearly closed.

"It's me, Terry." he replies, tail twitching. He is slowly beginning to wonder if that the tail twitching was a new way to smile.

"Terry? Is that really you? Just a minute, I'll get Russell," she backs away from the door, pulling it open. She walks to the top of a short staircase and shouts down. "RUSSELL! Someone's here to see you!"

"I'm coming!" a voice shouts out from below. A brown furred face appears at the bottom of the stairs. Instead of climbing the stairs, he leaps up them, banging his head on the ceiling.

"I told you to watch where you leap," Mrs. O'Brian says, as her son rubs his head. She walks into the kitchen while Terry looks at his old friend and notes the changes that had happened to him. Except for brown fur, above the waist he was still relatively normal. Below the waist though, he was completely kangaroo, complete with tail.

"Hi Russell, it's been quite a day, hasn't it?" Terry says, tail twitching.

"It certainly has... Do I know you?"

"We've only been best friends for the past 12 years." Terry replies. Russell still has a confused look on his face. His mother clues him in.

"Oh Terry, while you're here, how are your parents?" she calls out.

Realization spreads across Russell's face while Terry answers Mrs. O'Brian. "Mom and dad are fine. Dad's a husky and mom's a Chickadee with wing-arms. Ash seems to be some sort of cat, but she didn't change much."

Terry feels something tugging on his wings and looks down to see one of Russell's little brothers, unchanged, tugging on his wings. "What are you?" he asks.

"Your guess is as good as mine, kid." he replies, ruffling the boy's hair.

"Anyways, Russell, I was in the area and decided to drop in to see how you were doing, and to see if you want to try and find out what everyone has become." Terry says, looking at his friend.

"Sure, I was planning on going out. Mom, mind if I borrow the van?"

"And how do you plan on driving it with those feet of yours?" she asks, coming out of the kitchen, drying a bowl.

"Well, if the seat back can lower far enough, I could probably do it," Terry offers.

"If one of you can get in, relatively easily, then go ahead, otherwise, I'd rather you walk, or hop or fly or whatever you do now." she says.

"Thanks mom," Russell says as they walk out the door.

They walk down to the van and open the door. "Why don't you try first," Russell says.

"Thanks, with any luck, I should be able to fit in." Terry says. Luckily, the drivers seat of the van could move far enough back, and with some maneuvering, he gets into a position to drive. "Piece of cake." he says as Russell climbs into the back seat. "Where to first?"

"Might as well see if Andrea and Catherine are around." Russell replies, handing up the keys. Terry starts the van and slowly pulls out into the street. "So, what were you doing when the change happened?"

"Well, I was at work, doing 15 different things at once as normal..."

  To WoC Archives