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[Fiction] Changes

The White Rat

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The dreams he was having, were more frequent. Sometimes, he woke up in a cold sweat, and others, screaming. While it was not like Joe to be bothered by much, something strange was happening. Somewhere deep inside his dark, twisted, node riddled mind, the subconscious was screaming back at him. He was not sure if it was due to the blessings of taint, or if his psyche had finally decided to revolt against the stresses of taint. Whatever was going on, Joe needed answers. Only one person would be able to help. It was time to speak with the Apothecary.

For someone so 'human' looking, the Apothecary was, in Joe's opinion, the most 'inhuman' of the Harvesters. Joe respected Zia for his accomplishments in the areas of research. On several occasions, both Rat's and Zia's research had crossed paths. During those collaborations, Joe saw what defined a true Terat. Zia was so alien, even by Joe's standards, that he was truly no longer human. Unfortunately, to some of the more physically aberrated Harvesters, psychological and emotional taint was not enough. To them you had to look inhuman.

Joe, however, was smart enough to know that the outward displays, of the blessed taint, were not the true measure of 'otherness'. At this meeting, he was to learn that both physical and mental aberrations are intertwined.

Zia's laboratory was small, with only a shelf of different chemicals and reagents, and several distillation apparati. It was not what most Nova would expect from someone who spent so much time researching taint. It was almost as if Zia observed, and did all the permutaions and formularies in his head. The complexities involved behind his sort of research, must have put tremendous strain on Zia's mind. Even more so, because the Apothecary had trouble thinking rationally and logically at times. Maybe that is what made him so alien. He conducted most of his experiments, into the nature of taint, in a hallucinatory lab, where the subconscious mind twisted reality. Somehow, Zia's mind had learned to 'cooperate', in tandem, with his subconscious. Unfortunately, interactions of that sort only occurred when the mind fractured into multiple distinct peronalities. For the Apothecary, there could be an entire university worth of persona, conducting research in that one mind. Only Zia knew how many different 'researchers' were in his hallucinatory laboratory.

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"Zia" Joe said in an emotionless voice, as he reached out and shook the elder Harvesters hand. "I'm glad you could meet with me to discuss my dreams."

"We are glad you could come." Zia responded with an otherworldly stare in his eyes. "We knew you would come and see us, when the time was appropriate."

"Appropriate for what?" Rat queried, with obvious coriosity in his voice.

"Come...sit...tell us what has been bothering you in your dreams?" Zia responded with a non-answer, as he motioned for Joe to sit in a comfortable recliner. "We must know of the specifics of your dreams, if we are to advise you where to go next."

Having someone refer to themself in the plural was fascinating. Especially so, when they seemed to be at ease with the cacophony of voices in their head. For Joe, struggling against the delusions and voices was a constant battle, and he spent most of his time fighting them. Zia, however, seemed to have accepted the 'others' as equal partners, with his main persona. To him, they were as real as anyone else.

"I'll tell you what has been happenng with my dreams." joe replied with some visible agitation at Zia's non-answer answers. "But first, you must tell me what it is time for?"

The Apothecary paused and closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, they were filled with fatherly pride. "We have convened a meeting concerning your question, and we will tell you that it is time for you to evolve."

"Are you saying that it is time I seek to enter into the Chrysalis?" Joe replied with some excitement in his voice.

"Yes." Zia responded, with a distant smile. "You must take your human failings and emotions, and transform them. Only then will your nightmares stop."

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He was telling me to internalize my psyche. How the hell am I supposed to that? A very confused Joe asked himself. What do I need to do, that I have not already done, to drive my subconscious over the edge? What sort of psychological trauma do I need to freely choose to subject myself to, to evolve?

These questions plagued Joe's mind following his meeting with Zia. Eventually Joe isolated himself in a small room, as he searched for something that would 'send him over the edge'. After a week of pondering and self-actualization, he found it. He would need to find one of the few things left in his baseline past, that he cared about. When he found what he cared about, he would have to consume it, showing his final separation with humanity. It would truly be one of the most horrific and monstrous acts ever comitted. Just thinking of the act he had to commit, made him queasy. Yet Joe knew, that when he was finished, the emotional damage would force him to change...or perish.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No teleporters or warpers, Just Joe and an old car. He packed the trunk with alcohol, and the backseat with food, for he was not sure how long his journey would take. What was assured, was that it would be hazardous. When you are wanted, by multiple law enforcement agencies for a wide variety of offenses, you

can't just get into a car and start driving. When your appearance is so unique that you will be recognized, you can't travel unless disguised. Luckily for Rat, he could shut off the flow of quantum to his nodeing, and most of his resulting aberrations disappeared as well. He disliked doing it immensely, because he was accustomed to the flow of quantum through his body. and without it, he felt alien. When dorm'ed, Joe looked like a hirsute middle aged man with long sandy blond hair.

In case the police did stop him, for whatever reason, his allies in the Harvesters had created an alias. While travelling, Joe was Peter Mitchell. A professor of biology. His appearance and his fake identity should be enough to fool most cops.

The darkness of the counry sky gave way to the orange night of the city. The stars in the sky disappeared for the homogeniety of a soft brown sky. For Joe, it was good to be back in the city, if only in transit. He rolled down the windows and allowed the the smells of the city bring back memories both good and bad. He closed his eyes briefly reminiscing of earlier times. Soon those things would become part of an earlier life.

As night turned to day, he began to search for a motel. It was not that he was allergic or harmed by sunlight, it was that in direct sulight he was more vulnerable to attacks. Therefore Joe would travel at night, and sleep during the day. If all went well, he would be back within the week. Once he completed his mission, Barbie would warp him back to Heartland, where he could undergo the Chrysalis in safety.

Another night passed and Joe found himself in Raleigh, North Carolina. There he exited the turnpike, and as if he never forgot, took the route that led to his old home. It had been ten years since his wife and 2 year old son, left him to his fate on the streets. At that point in time, his family could no longer tolerate his alcoholism and self-destructive behavior, and she threw him out. In all likelihood, she filed for divorce and it was granted in absentia. He hoped that his wife and 12 year old son, still lived there. When he reached the street and when his old house was in view, he stopped and parked. Now he waited.

After 5 hours of excruciating boredom, a car pulled up in front of the house. Much to Joe's dismay, an elderly couple emerged and entered the home.

"What have we here?" he asked himself with a malicious voice as he unbuckled himself. He exited the vehicle and slowly walked towards his old house and looking at the houses around the neighborhood. Each of these residences had a memory as well.

Walking up to the front door, Joe adjusted his clothing and ineffectually tried to smooth out the wrinkles. He reached out with a skinny pink finger and pressed the doorbell. A moment later, an elderly woman answered the door.

"Good afternoon Ma'am," Joe said with a forced smile. "But maybe you can help me."

"If you're selling something, we are not interested." She replied curtly as she began to close the door.

"Please," he responded quickly, trying to stop her from making his job more difficult by shutting him out.

"It is nothing like that. I'm trying to get hold of my cousin, Jessica Swoops." He looked back at her innocently. "I have been living in Europe these past 12 years and I am back in the U.S. I know I should have called first, but her number has been disconnected."

After a few seconds, the woman's expression changed from one of mistrust to one of pity. "I'm sorry, but Mrs. Swoops no longer lives here. You see, after her divorce, she changed her name back to Turner and moved away."

"How come she didn't tell me?" Joe said in feigned surprise.

"Her husbands condition and separation were hard on her. She took their son and moved to Florida. She probably didn't want to tell you about it." It was obvious, that the woman trusted Joe enough to tell him. "The only reason we know is that my husband and I requested why she was selling the home at below the market price. It's really a sad story."

"I'm very sorry to hear that." Joe said. "Is there any way to get in touch wth her? Maybe a forewarding address or phone number? I'd really appreciate it."

The old woman smiled at Joe. "Hold on one minute, I think I have it somewhere." With that she closed the door and he could hear her yelling to her husband to get the paperwork.

After several minutes, she returned with a slip of paper and put it into Joe's hand. In response, Joe reached out, grabbed her hand and with a broad smile, shook it. "My name is Willard. Willard Starling. Thank you very much Ma'am."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Several more nights changed to dawn and he was nearing his destination. The air was warmer and moister than what he was used to, but not as hot as he thought it would be. The radio stations were broadcasting a tropical storm for much of Florida. He was told to expect increasing winds and rainfall. None of what nature was going to throw at him was of concern. Joe had made up his mind.

The oddest part about being dormed down for so long was not feeling the quantum coursing through him. Several times he had to stop himself from lashing out at the human figure that was his own reflection. For Joe, hating humanity had become so ingrained in who he was, that it was instinctual. To see himself in human form with a human face only reinforced his desire to initiate his evolution.

When he left the highway in Talahassee, Florida, it was already raining. The expected tropical storm had made its landfall. For a little while, the rain and wind would not inhibit visibility and he would have an easy time searching for the house. Eventually though, the storm would fill the air with debris and the rains would reduce visibility to 10 or so meters. When that time came, Joe would have no choice but to un-dorm so he could see where he was driving. That time came, only 30 minutes later, when he was forced to return to his natural form.

Night turned to daylight as Joe saw the quantum universe ebb and flow around him. The street signs were visible, and he had little difficulty navigating through town. for a normal baseline, visibility was down to only a few meters, which meant that Joe's aberrated figure would not be noticed by any onlookers. His other perceptive abilities would warn him if he was being watched or followed.

Eventually he fount it. It was part of a housing tract, built next to a golf course. Such a location would prove ideal for his 'healing'.

There were still 4 hours until dawn, and Joe would have to make his move. Because of the storm, any oises would be muffled by the intermittent thunder and howling winds. He took a deep breath and reasurred himself. It's time...You can do this.

He exited the car and ran across the street through the torrential rain. As he reached the front door, his fur was soaked into corn-rows of alternating flesh and fur. A slight shiver wobbled across his misshapen body as he stood in front of the darkened entrance to the house. There was no turning back.

As expected, the front door was locked and a security system in activated. He had planned on encountering some sort of electronic locking device, and had come prepared. Thus, before departing Heartland, Joe had an associate 'gift' him with the ability to disrupt electronic locking mechanisms. Now, all he did was gently release the stored quantum energy into the houses electical system. Almost instantly, and audible click could be heard as the door unlocked. Joe now had access to the only thing he really cared about in the universe: his beloved son.

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It happened so fast that Joe was caught off guard. A loud crack was immediately followed by a sharp pressure to his chest, as a large caliber bullet slammed into him. It had been fired from near the hallway corner and it knocked him off his feet. It did little damage. As he lie there, he watched two figures, a man and a woman, approach and stand above him in the dark. Somehow, they had seen him coming.

Joe lay motionless on the floor in the darkened hallway, playing possum. He had his own surprise for them. First, however, he wanted to to know their identities and intentions. A few seconds later, a light was switched on followed immediately by a startled scream as his highly aberrated body was visibly lying on the floor. His ex-wife and a middle aged man stared in horror at Joe's white gelatenous form.

"What is it?" The man said in obvious disgust.

"I...I think it is an aberrant." Jessie said, her voice trembling.

"That thing used to be a human?" The man croaked in fear. "Please tell me that it's alone out there. I'd hate to see its family."

Joe began to laugh internally at the irony of the man's statement. Was he aware that he was living and sleeping with that 'Things' family. Joe would soon tell them the truth.

"Is it dead?" She said, while gently kicking one of Joe's semi-liquid legs, with her foot. It was obvious that she was questioning the effectiveness of the bullet. "It doesn't look like its bleeding."

"Let's call the police." The man responded. "They are better equipped to deal with these sort of things. Maybe they will bring in Team Tomorrow?" The man's voice rose in excitement when he spoke of T2M.

That was Rat's cue. He flipped his eyes fully open and gave them a large toothy grin, before laughing. "I wouldn't do that. It might just make me angry." At that point, he let out a wave of agility leeching energy. As the two of them collapsed to the ground with a thump, he could feel himself get faster.

Joe stood up and lorded over the two of them. "Didn't anyone tell you, that violence begets violence?" He reached down and turned both of them over so they could look at him. "You, of all people Jessica, should know what kind of damage violence does. After all, it was violence that left your ex-husband a broken shell. It took a long time, my dear, but he, or should I say we, have gotten better."

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It took about a half hour to find his son, Peter. The young man was curled up into a ball in the upstairs closet. Rat's leeching abilities had taken all of Peter's desterity as well. At least he didn't have to worry about his son fleeing when he needed him most. With a kind and gentile voice, Joe spoke to his adolescent son. "Don't be afraid Peter. I am your father. I might look horrific, but in my heart I love you. I have come here, because I need your help."

He carried his son downstairs and gently set him on the ground. Then with a fatherly smile, he placed several blankets on top of him to keep him warm. Joe then turned towards the two supine adults and one by one, dragged them out the back door into their backyard/golfcourse. A half hour later, Joe returned, soaking wet and carefully picked up his son. The small boy looked remarkably like him, and he wondered what it would have been like if he had been around to raise his child. It mattered little now, and as he looked into Peter's tear-filled eyes, he began to cry as well.

Evolution must occur.


The dark figure's glowing red eyes were the only things visible on its misshapen outline. Small rivers of rain-water, poured from its lumpy arms and splattered onto the muddy ground at its feet. Every so often, it would bend over and make grunting noises. Then it would raise its head into the sky, and let out a gurgled wail. The misery in its voice was of untold sadness and grief. Over and over, the beast repeated its forlorn movement.

Periodically, a flash of lightning revealed the face of the beast. Its eyes were swollen and filled with tears. The white face was covered in blood, and flesh hung from its lips. In its hands were hunks of raw flesh and organs. Almost robotically, it shoved the warm, bloody and often pulsating chunks of sweetmeats into its mouth. Each bite elicited pitiful sobs from the monster, followed by gagging and choking. Lying at the beast's feet was the body of an adolescent child...mostly eaten.

Behind the creature and its macabre feast, were a gagged man and woman; tied to a tree. Both were blue and cyanotic. They had choked and aspirated on their own vomit.

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"Did you see him come in the other night?" The prickly metallic nova said to another nova, who was only skin and bones.

"Yeah, he was fucked up. He spoke to Zia briefly and then headed to one of the abandoned rooms." The skeleoid Harvester replied with feigned sympathy. "Do you think he's gone into Chrysalis?"

"I'm almost positive" Barbed Wire responded.

"How do you know?" Skelter taunted.

"Well, I don't know for sure, but we can check." Barbie said with excitement in his voice.


"Holy cow, Ratties really got some issues" Skelter said as he wiped vomitus from his lips. "I always knew he was ill. But to see it manifest physically and 'olifactorally' was too much."

"Blech!....Buruuupp!" Yeah, you got that right" Barbie responded between retches. "Who could have imagined that he would evolve in a cocoon made of vomitus."

"It was not just puke. His chrysalis was made of regurgitated, half- digested, human remains...and the smell....it was soo sickly sweet...and...and..." With that, Skelter let launch with another series of gastric upheavals.

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