July 30, 2008:
My name is Gaibe… yes, a pretty weird name, I know. (My parents always had this affinity for being... "original")
Anyway, this is my chapter of the day that every adult should remember... the day that everyone’s life, especially my own, took a turn in a different direction.
I do not have the best memory, but I will try my best to re-tell the story with utmost accuracy.
Back to June 17, 1996...
It started off just like any other winter day. I woke up, did my usual morning routine… (brush teeth, shower, get dressed, praise the Queen…)just like any normal person… getting ready for another round of classes.
I packed my lunch (I save money that way)… just the usual… couple cans of Foster’s, a kiwi fruit, and a leftover BBQ beef steak burger from last night’s indoor barbecue and rugby brawl.
So I headed out. My first class was just a few hundred metres away, so I flipped on my sheep-skin walking boots and set out on foot. Normally, I would have taken the Land Rover down, since the main complex centre is over a kilometre away.
But I was looking forward to getting outside anyway…
I put on my heavy coat, and headed out.
Aside from the fact that it was freezing cold, around 3 degrees centigrade (that was cold to me back then), it could have been considered a nice day. The sun was shining brightly… a few puffy clouds in the air. The sky was pleasant soft blue in colour.
So far, it seemed like any regular day...
It was while passing the ice cream parlour in the street corner when the first odd thing happened...
Something hit me hit me on the top of the head! Something small…
I picked up the object that had fallen and observed it to be an acorn, and judging by its shape and size, I concluded it was that of an oak tree.
Now here is the mystery:
The nearest oak tree was in a park 2 kilometres away! So where did it come from? My only guess is that a bird must have carried it the distance and accidentally dropped it over me… but I do not recall seeing any birds.
To this day, the mystery of the falling acorn from an oak torments my curiosity.
The second odd occurrence did not occur until much later in the day, and I realize that if my narrative were to maintain the same rate as it started with, this recollection will become far longer than I anticipated… which would mean torture for those reading. So please forgive me for this sudden leap in time...
Okay, the day past just as any other... nothing special.
Around 9:47 PM (just an estimate)...
It was dark, and few people were out by the time I headed back home, my last engagement having been the weekly "Down with the Yank!" rally, when the second oddity happened.
I was passing the same ice cream parlour as before (coincidence? I think not!) when I noticed a boy, dressed in yank costume, standing under the streetlight, staring down at a map, and looking lost and bewildered. A tourist, obviously... but too young to be alone... and it was far too late for sight-seeing.
Pretty intelligent looking kid, judging by a quality in his look (I have always had the gift of judging many things about a person just by looking at them)... though it was quite clear he was very confused.
And although he was a yank, I could not help but pity the chap...
It had been a long long while since I had last done a "nice" thing, so I decided I would do a good deed and help the kid out. I walked up aside to greet him.
"Howdy, partner!," I said, with my best attempt at a yank accent.
He looked at me, quite dumbfounded... and probably a bit frightened as well.
"My name is Gaibe," I continued, reaching out my hand to shake his.... "and you are?"
By the look he gave me, it was apparent he did not trust me very much. Reluctantly shaking, he responded uneasily, "My name’s Jaeger... what do ya want? Ummmmm, I’ve got no money... and I don’t know where my parents are..."
(Now I knew he was definitely a yank, judging by his use of those lazy words yanks like to call "contractions")
"Jaeger, eh?" I replied, "Interesting name..."
"Yeah, its German... for hunter. So what do you want?"
"I will help you... I need some more good deeds on my resume"
"So you are lost?," I asked. (Though it was obvious)
"Yeah... we were heading back from the shopping center, which sucks by the way, and somehow my family just disappeared... I dunno," he said, with a frustrated sigh. "so for the last hour or so, I’ve just been tryin to get back to the hotel"
"Hotel? Which hotel?"
"Ummm... Sheraton, I think"
I knew exactly where that was, just a few blocks down. I was about to tell him how to get there... when it hit.
Yes, it... that strange occurrence June 17, 1996 is known for...
At the time, Jaeger was only thirteen years of age. (If I remember correctly), so the changes he were to experience that day were minimal...
Sometime during our little chat, a set of whiskers had appeared on either side of the boys nose, and his nose looked strange... a bit flattened and dark... and most noticeably, his eyes were taking a different quality... more hostile looking. It all happened very fast.
Nowadays such an observance would have no special meaning to me, but I was utterly shocked... even terrified. (I am sure you all well recall how much of a shock that day was)
Jaeger, who had yet to notice anything wrong, regarded me strangely. (I can only imagine the expression my face had taken)
"What’s wrong? Heh, you look as scared as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs," he said with a little laugh.
I did not reply... just stared.
"What? There a bug on my face? Is my nose falling off?"
Then the change hit me... and I felt something strange happening to my body... the same feeling most of you all have already experienced.
This, Jaeger noticed. "Uhhh... Oh my God..." he said, thoroughly scared, stumbling backwards...
...backwards, into the street.
I barely had time to consider things when in my peripheral vision, I observed a red Subaru Outback (I always wanted on of those), out of control, heading right for the boy. Without thinking, I jumped into the street, in an effort to push Jaeger out of the way.
I made it in time to force him over a bit... but not enough. It was too late.
Now I was in the vehicle’s path as well, and...
I woke up in the hospital, drowsy, laying on my back... flat in a bed. When I opened my eyes, I saw a blurry figure standing above me.
"Good, you’re awake," it said. The voice was female.
When my vision cleared, I saw what looked to be a humanoid skunk wearing a nurse’s cap... in fact, that is exactly what she was.
But I did not think much of it, really. (morphine and all those other chemicals hospital folk like to put into their patients have a tendency to do that to a person.) Actually, if I remember correctly, my initial response was to laugh.
She said a few things, I do not remember what... then re-adjusted my bed so that I was sitting up a bit, and left.
On the wall opposite my bed was a clock. It was just past 11:30.
Mounted in the corner to the left, was a television, tuned to CNN International.
I watched the broadcast for a while... which of course, was covering this whole world-wide phenomenon.
Still heavily drugged, it took me a while to realize that what I was watching was actually happening… and even then, I was not sure whether or not I had dreamt it all up.
I then remembered what I had saw and felt the moments before being hit by the car...
Now, I did not really "feel" strange, or any different... but I knew my body had changed somehow. A look at my hands confirmed it. They were totally covered with brown fur, as were my arms, and my nails were dark, black almost. I then felt my face...
My attention turned suddenly when a doctor entered the room.
Now this guy... looked strange. I think he was supposed to be a marine mammal of some sort, probably dolphin.
He sat down in a chair beside the bed. "Hello, Mister..."
"Gaibe," I said, "call me Gaibe"
"Okay, Mr. Gaibe. You seem to have been hit by a car"
"Yes, I know"
"You were injured quite badly when we received you," he continued, "enough to cripple most people... but strangely, you seem to have nearly fully recovered."
"Yes... your body healed... just like that," he said, snapping his finger. "Today has been a very strange day."
"Yes, tell me about it." My mind then turned to the boy. "Ummm... so..."
"You will just need to stay here the night for rest... after that, you will be free to go home."
"What about the boy?"
"The boy? Oh, he will be just fine. He was fortunate enough to have only caught the edge of the vehicle. A few broken bones... bruises... nothing that cannot be healed naturally"
"That is good", I said, quite relieved.
"...though we will need to keep him here for at least two weeks"
Then, in the doorway appeared a man and a woman, weasel and fox morphs, respectively.
"Can we speak with him now?", said the man, with a distinct yank accent.
"All right," replied the doctor, "but keep it short. He needs his rest."
The doctor left, leaving me alone with the couple.
"Hi. We’re Jaeger’s parents."
"G’day," I said, a bit uncomfortable.
"Would you mind tellin us what happened out there, son?," asked the father.
So for the next few minutes, I explained, in great detail, everything that I had seen and knew about what had happened... and finally, apologized that I failed to save their son from getting hit.
"Don’t be sorry," said the mother, putting her hand on my arm, "if you hadn’t jumped in like you did, he would have taken the full hit. You probably saved his life!"
"No, I would not say that..."
"You’re a good man", said the father, "If there’s anything you want..."
"Could I see him sometime?"
"Of course…. but I think it’d be better if we waited for Jaeger to get better... and uh, adjust," Jaeger’s mother said, a bit uneasy.
"He hasn’t woken up yet, and we’re not quite sure how he’s gonna take it," his father explained.
Then the same nurse as before came in…. "I think we should let him have his sleep."
Before leaving, Jaeger’s father asked me for my phone number so they could call me when I could visit their son. I gave it to him, and they left.
"Anything you’d like before you sleep, sir?," asked the nurse.
"Actually, do you have any mirrors?," I said, still unaware of exactly what I looked like.
She pulled out a hand-mirror from a drawer and gave it to me.
"Sorry about the antlers… we found them too difficult to work with."
I was not too surprised at what I saw. In fact, it was a good look for me. Moose... quite fitting, I think, though I was a bit disappointed with the stumps.
"We still have them… you can keep them if you want... you could mount them."
"No, that is all right"
Satisfied, I gave the nurse the mirror, and she put it back in its place.
"Okay, I am good for sleep," I said, adjusting my pillow.
"G’nite Mr. Gaibe"
Before she flipped off the lights, I checked the wall clock… midnight, at last.
So, I made myself comfortable (or at least I tried… pre-’96 beds do not work for me at all!) ...and went to sleep…wondering about the future.
Well, for the next year I tried my best to settle down, like everyone else, and tried to get everything in my life back together... but unfortunately, as for many, the change had too great an impact to keep my way of life.
The main issue was the tortuous Aussie heat. It nearly drove me mad... only the winter gave me any sort of relief.
It greatly pained me to leave my motherland, but I suppose moose just are not meant for such hellish conditions.
So the next spring, I moved up to Anchorage, Alaska, where I found my niche, and have lived for the last decade. The weather up north is so much nicer, though I find summer a bit too warm. And although leaving Australia meant abandoning my higher education, I have found myself quite a respectable occupation, making high-quality Alaskan Ulu knives for the tourists... I use caribou antler, of course. (moose antlers are out of the question)
Plus, a few years after my arrival, I was fortunate enough to run into a beautiful moose morph during one of my weekly excursions up Flat-Top Mountain. The rest just blossomed, and Kerry has graced me twice with two beautiful children... one girl, one boy.
I feel almost guilty saying this, but I have since enjoyed a wonderful life and look forward to watching the children grow up, to grow old with my wife, and to forever cherish the beauty and freedom of the Alaskan wilderness.
As for Jaeger...
Sadly, I never received any phone calls from his parents.
I have not anything from of him... but I have heard enough about him to say his life was not nearly as fortunate.
I imagine it did not take him long to overcome his shock, and for it to dawn on him that he was to become feline (which apparently was a major problem)... a tiger to be precise, one of those white ones... which I believe one calls "albino".
I have not seen him since 1996, but his change was apparently one of very high degree.
Pretty sad... not long after returning home to the states, the poor kid went insane...
The last I heard is that he was put into the maximum-security Texas State Penitentiary when he was 16….and remains…where he awaits the first of a series of 64 consecutive death sentences...
Yes, 64! And he was only a minor!!! I would have thought that the United States Constitution would have protected him from such severe justice... but I suppose not. Texas has a strange justice system, or so I hear.
I can only imagine the horrible things he must have done to deserve such an end... in fact, I have had terrible nightmares thinking about it... enough to make me fearful of cats… horribly fearful.
Ailurophobia, I believe it is called...
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