Final Moments
by Jason Leher


"Oh my God, I'm coming, I'm coming, I've got the camera..." I can't believe it's finally happening. I know I should be much calmer but who the hell am I kidding? My heart feels like it's going to rip itself from my chest if I get any more excited. But who wouldn't be? We've waited more than a month for this, and it's finally happening.

"I'm here, and I remembered the camera, too."

"Forget the camera. Look..."

"Oh my God..." They say that what I'm seeing is probably one of the most amazing, spectacular miracles in the universe -- and frankly about now I'm inclined to agree. Our egg is hatching. I can see his or her little yellow beak just starting to appear. Pushing out of the egg ever so slowly. I want to help our fledgling out but I know I can't and my mate wouldn't allow it if I tried. So I just stand back and watch our child emerge into its new life. It truly is a miracle, no matter what science says. "It's... incredible, isn't it."

"I know. Shhhhh watch."

So we just sit there. I really don't know how long it takes but I also really don't care. It is beautiful to watch our son emerge into the light.

Our son.

My mate is feeding him now while I watch. They say this is the time when he begins to recognize my mate as his mother and that is something I don't want to interfere with, so I just hang back and preen myself. That manages to calm me down by about one percent. "Damn it." I forgot to take the pictures. I had the camera in my hand and I forgot to take the damned pictures. Oh, well... I doubt I'll ever really forget this moment.

"...Please leave a message after the beep... Hey Brian, it's me Alex... Hey -- I know you're there. You took off work for the past three days. Is everything O.K.? Or are you just getting, ahem... how to put this...closer to your mate?"

"Hey Alex, I'm here, sorry about that."

"No problemo, so what's up?"

"My son just hatched today, that's what!" I say with extreme exuberance.

"Holy... Congratulations, man. So you're a dad now. How does it feel? Now I guess I understand why you left the university for the last three days. Feel free to take the next few off, but I need your help with one of my students soon."

"Well Thanks. I'll probably be in by Friday, O.K.?"

"See you then."


"Who was that?"

"Just Alex, you know.. the other professor I work with. Says he's having trouble with one of his students."

"Oh, O.K. Well then -- say hello to your new son: Marcus." And with that she hands me the most beautiful, incredible little package anyone has ever seen. At least in my personal opinion. "Hello Marcus, Hello..." He's looking at me now. He has his mother's eyes. Beautiful golden eyes I could get lost in just staring at them.

"I'll leave you two alone for now. I'll be in the next room if you need anything."


Ranmar University, one of the most prestigious universities on the continent. And of course, it's where I work. I, as usual, land in front of the Social Services building and make my way to my office. Or at least attempt to do so... I'm about half way there when the expected occurs.

"Hey Brian, Congratulations. So how does it feel to be a new father?"

"Hey Brian, heard the great news... congratulations"

"Hey Brian, How's..."

"Hey Brian..."

Half an hour later I finally make it to my desk. Apparently news travels fast around here. But I don't really care. I'm on cloud nine and a half. The doctor said Marcus is a perfectly healthy eagle who, according to him, looks like me.

Let's see what we have to do today, shall we? Hmmmm... A one o'clock meeting with a student who needs a loan extension and a two o'clock meeting with a student who wants to switch programs. All in all just your typical day.

"Brian, may I come in?"

"Of course. So what's the problem, my feline friend?"

"It's the Deinonychus student I have. He's having trouble fitting in and he's beginning to disrupt the class. I mean, I know it's probably really hard for him to fit in, considering he's a Deinonychus and they have violent tendencies... but still... he tried to gut one of his lab parteners."

"Oh come on, Alex. He really didn't try and kill the guy did he. He probably wanted to just scare him. You know how his species is... I'm dominant so you can kiss my ass and if you don't I'll kill you type of thing. Plus he's not even from this continent let alone this country. He probably has no friends. Cut him a little slack."

"Cut him some slack.... Hello, Earth to Bald Eagle.... We're not talking about a prey species here. He could probably have killed that kid in my physics lab. Now I have the class at two and I'd like you to talk to him. After all... that is what we pay you for."

"O.K. fine. Send him to me for a three o'clock appointement and I'll talk to him. Satisfied?" God some species are just so annoying... I wonder why the Deino did that though? Guess I'll find out at three. Sometimes I begin to think that maybe it should have remained all segregated, you know... all the wolves go to a wolf school, all the rabbits go to a rabbit school. But of course the central government has decided all species should live and work together in harmony. Like harmony is ever going to exist. Hell, how do you make a predator stop seeing his prey as prey when his prey has always been his prey since his species existed?

But I guess I shouldn't complain. After all, This is why I have a job here in the first place. To help predator species get along with prey species and vise versa. And what a wonderful job it is. Oh well -- let's surf the matrixnet. I love it when I have no appointements in the morning so I can do whatever I want.

"HaaaaHaaaaa" some moron has a net page up about how he was captured and experimented on by aliens. He says they look like your typical ape but lack almost all fur except on their heads and are slightly taller. What a crackpot. I still can't believe people believe this shit. But it is Matrixnet so anyone can put up anything they want.

"So how was your work day, Honey?"

"O.K. I guess. I had to talk to a Deinonychus student. Why the morons put him and a wolf in the same class I'll never understand."

"What do you mean?"

"Well both of them consider themselves to be the dominant male and therefore they were about to kill each other to prove it. But anyway, how are you?"

"I'm O.K. I guess. The company let me have a couple more days off to care for Marcus."

"That's good. Where is he?"

"In the other room asleep in his crib."

It's times like this that reaffirm your faith in the wonder of life. No matter what had happened today, it's all worth it just to see my little eagle sound asleep in his crib. Just helps to bring things into focus.


Damn it. I must have waken him up. Shit. Guess it's fatherly time now.

"Shhhhh my little Marcus...." I'm cradling him in my arms. Such small talons he has. But he'll grow up to be big and strong some day. "Won't you my little boy, Won't you."

Damn. He still won't stop crying. Maybe some fresh air will help. There. Now we're standing on the porch and he's starting to settle down again. I look up at the stars. I could probably stare at them all night given the chance. But I don't want Marcus to get sick so I guess I'd better get back inside.

"Holy mother of F&*K!!!" What the Hell is that. It looks like... like a ripple in space. And it's coming this way. It's dark purple and it's swirling and shimmering but what the hell is it?


Marcus is crying again. And that thing is coming closer. What the hell is it? some sort of atmospheric anomaly? No -- it can't be -- it just entered the atmosphere. It's like a massive swirling wave that's coming closer. It's enveloping everything...


I cradle Marcus closer to me and try to figure out what the hell is going on. It's moving too fast to try and outfly and it's making its way up the street... Enveloping everything it touches...

"My God... what the F&*K is that?"

It's my mate. I don't know what to tell her. This is like something out of a science fiction story. I just stand there in awe. It is just this massive purple wall approaching from down the street. My porcupine friend from down the street is also apparently up, 'cause he just ran out of his house to get a look at the thing. And it's approaching him fast.



The first one of those shouts came from Marcus, who's still crying, but the second just came from the porcupine. It was horrific. It was as if as soon as it touched him he just started to melt until there was nothing left of him. His entire body just turning to mush.

I hold Marcus close to me as my mate and I take off in the slim hope of outrunning whatever the hell that thing is. But I can see it getting closer to me every second. I pump my wings as hard as I can as the wave overtakes me. The last thing I can hear is Marcus's cry.

"We're converging with the subuniverse randomly chosen by the node's computer. The bubble must have burst..."
Dr. Maya Naguma

"It appears that what has been dubbed the Change is happening all over the planet. Scientists are at a loss to explain this. However, we are now getting unconfirmed reports that children under the age of puberty seem unaffected. We can only speculate about elsewhere, but the children in the building's daycare center show no signs of transformation."

The anchorman on The News Channel

Four months later...


"James, are you O.K.?"

"Sorry to wake you up. I had another nightmare."

"That's the sixth one since the Change. You want to tell me what it was about?"

"It's always the same one. I'm flying away from this swirling purple thing that's killing everyone and there's this crying sound and then I feel like I'm in a lot of pain... and then I wake up."

"Are you sure you're O.K.?"

"Yeah, I think so. Who knows-- maybe it's just my new Bald Eagle instincts kicking in. After all it was just a dream right?"

"Oh... Then let's go back to sleep."

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