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Learning to Fly, Part One: The Horsening

By LyraHStrings
Created: 16th July 2021 09:31:33 PM
28th February 2021 03:30:46 AM

  1. >Be you
  2. >16, third year of high school.
  3. >You got back from a band trip last night, somewhere up north for a football game.
  4. >You had crashed on your bed, and forgot to shower when you got home.
  5. >As you begin to awake from a deep slumber at six in the morning for school, your whole body feels wrong.
  6. >Your mind feels kinda fuzzy, like you're not all there. You try to move an arm, but it's like it's doing the opposite of what you tell it.
  7. >Groggily, you open your eyes and peer down at your still-human body- why wouldn't it be? You're just not quite awake yet, nothing to worry about.
  8. >You swing your legs over the edge of your bed and check your phone.
  9. >Your schedule's pretty typical today- Thursday, September the 24th- according to your calendar, but you do have a band practice after school.
  10. >Time to make breakfast.
  11. >There's not anyone else up, as usual.
  12. >You had been getting yourself up for school for years, as your dad had pushed you to do.
  13. >"It's supposed to prepare you for college," he says. "Won't have anyone to get you up then, will you son?"
  14. >He was at work right now, he wouldn't get home until after you were gone.
  15. >You make some toast, and spread jam on it.
  16. >For some reason, the flavors of the toast and jam just seem... accented today.
  17. "Best god damn toast I've ever had in my life."
  18. >You finish it with vigor.
  19. >Soon after, you return to your room and start changing your clothes.
  20. >Something just seems off, still. You only got like four hours of sleep, that's probably it.
  21. >You decide to skip on the shower, you don't look that bad, and you don't really take much pride in your appearance.
  22. >Electing for an early start instead, you shuffle to your car, throwing your bag in the back seat.
  23.  
  24. >Turning the key, you start your car and pull out of your driveway, starting down the long dirt road that led out to the pavement.
  25. >You'll mostly be taking back roads for a while until you get to country road 28, then it was a straight shot west to school.
  26. >All in all, the route was about 35 miles, and sometimes took you forty-five minutes to complete, depending on if you ran into any farmers or not.
  27. >You turn on the radio.
  28. >"Aaaaand welcome back to 98.1 FM, your home for the stupidest conversations to ever take place on the air. I'm John,"
  29. >"And I'm Tommy."
  30. >"And this is the John and Tommy morning show."
  31. >"What do you have for us today, John?"
  32. >"Well, the weather guy tells me it's gonna start out somewhere in the mid 60s this morning, reaching a peak in the high 70s by the afternoon, and falling back down to the high 50s."
  33. >"A rollercoaster today, isn't it John?"
  34. >"That's right. Well, traffic's not looking too good out on the west end of the county. Callers report an accident on 28, right at the 57 intersection."
  35. >Shit.
  36. >"Oooh, that's rough, John. Do they have it cleared, yet?"
  37. >"Don't think they'll clear this one up for a while, Tommy, it sounds bad. Big old truck fell over on its side."
  38. >"Lotsa trees through there. Real tight quarters, you know?"
  39. >"Yeah, no way around this one."
  40. >"Well, good luck to all you drivers out there trying to get to the bay. Think you'll need it. Now, for the news today..."
  41. >You groan. That was gonna cost you a thirty minute detour, at least! There was no way you were gonna make it to school on time this morning.
  42. >At least your first period class is just jazz band, you and Mr. D are cool. He doesn't post his attendance til the end of class, anyways, much to the chagrin of the front office.
  43. >Though if you're tardy again, you'll have to go to detention. Between living almost forty miles away from the school, and delays like this, you've been late a few times this year already.
  44. >You step on the gas a little more. There was no way you were gonna make it, but at least you had to try.
  45.  
  46. >Almost an hour later, you pull into your parking spot. It's already 8:15. You grab your bag and check around you to see if anyone's watching.
  47. >Normally you'd have to check in through the front office, but you think you can manage to sneak into the band room.
  48. >You approach the school, sure to avoid the sight lines of the cameras on your way in.
  49. >You get to the back of the building, and knock on the band door in a particular rhythm.
  50. >The jazz music stops, and the door opens. Some man you've never seen before in your life opens the door.
  51. >"Can I help you?"
  52. "What? Where's Mr. D?"
  53. >"I'm his sub today. Looks like you're late, son."
  54. >Damnit.
  55. "...Right. Can I come in?"
  56. >"Sure."
  57. >You go past him and he goes back inside the band office. Some of your bandmates offer their greetings as you grab your bass.
  58. >You sigh. Looks like you're getting that detention after all.
  59. >By the time second period Spanish rolls around, that feeling still hasn't gone away.
  60. >You feel pretty awake by now, so you're not sure what's going on.
  61. >You slide into your desk, next to Carlos, a friend of yours.
  62. >He, a native speaker, was basically in this class for the easy A, and you could respect that.
  63. "Hey man, what's up?"
  64. >"Not much, what about you?"
  65. "I've got this weird feeling about today, dude. I don't know what it is but I just don't feel right."
  66. >"Sure you're not just tired?"
  67. "Nah man, I've been awake for a few hours already. I feel wide awake, but it's like... I don't know, just one of those feelings. I don't feel like myself."
  68. >Carlos laughs, shaking his head.
  69. >"Man, I don't know what you've been smokin, ese. You sure look like your usual gringo ass. And- whew! Sure smell like it, too."
  70. >You chuckle, rolling your eyes.
  71. "Hey, I got home late last night. No time for a shower this morning, either... but yeah. It's probably nothing."
  72. >You just go back to your work. Some translation assignment.
  73. >You find it increasingly hard to concentrate as a growing itch starts making itself apparent.
  74. >You scratch at your arm, which alleviates it for some time, but soon it comes back almost twice as strong.
  75. >Suddenly, it spikes up on your leg, and you try to scratch that one away to no avail.
  76. >You pull your arm out of your hoodie sleeve to examine it.
  77. >There's some kind of light-coloured strands of hair breaking out on your arm, and more are forming as you watch.
  78. >You quickly hide it away again, breathing hard.
  79. >Cautiously, you check again to make sure you weren't going crazy- yep, still there- and you put your arm back into the sleeve.
  80. >What does this mean?
  81. >Maybe you should go to the nurse's office...
  82. >What would she do, exactly? You have hair growing on your arms!
  83. >...That doesn't sound as concerning when you think about it, but you know what you mean.
  84. >Okay. It's just your body hair changing colour and growing longer suddenly, probably just some weird condition you've never heard of. Maybe something to worry about, but it's probably not life-threatening.
  85. >Your mind has calmed down a little, as you rationalize.
  86. >Soon enough the bell rings, and Spanish is over, but not the itching.
  87. >It's only gotten worse and the hair is still spreading across your body. Nothing visible, you're covering up all of it with your jacket, at least.
  88. >You stand up- woah!
  89. >You nearly tumble over, and you desperately grip onto your desk for support.
  90. >Your balance has been fucked in the ass, but with some difficulty you manage to rise.
  91. >"Hey, are you okay, Anon?"
  92. >The Spanish teacher, SeƱor Horst, looks over at you, concerned.
  93. >You nod, and he shrugs, looking back at the papers he was grading.
  94. >A few of your fellow students give you some odd looks but shrug, probably thinking, "It's just Anon," and keep on their way out of the classroom.
  95. >You grab your bag and proceed forward, before realising you're walking on the tips of your toes.
  96. >You quickly rock back down to your heels, but you have a hard time walking normally. Walking on your toes just feels more natural right now.
  97. >Deciding to roll with it, you strut out of the room like you're wearing invisible high heels.
  98. >You try not to draw too much attention to yourself despite this, and it doesn't look like anyone cares, anyways.
  99. >You draw your hoodie up over your head, trying to be discreet.
  100.  
  101. >You make your way to Pre-Calculus, walking in that odd manner.
  102. >You idly scratch at your arms, and eventually the itching subsides.
  103. >You think it's slowed down, now, and you sit.
  104. >The teacher here, Mrs. Landry, was in her fourties. She had been at this for a while.
  105. >Today, she's reviewing the "parent functions" with the class
  106. >You think you learned this last year but you don't really remember.
  107. >After solving the warmup you start taking notes and get invested in the lesson.
  108. >Before long, you've almost forgotten about the events of this morning.
  109. >You're quickly brought back to reality when you feel something crawling up your chest.
  110. >You clutch at your neck, feeling new hair. You were towards the back of class so no one was really looking at you that closely, and you do have your hood up.
  111. >It's getting harder and harder to hide this, now... if you keep your head down nobody will notice, right?
  112. >Right. You just need to make it to the end of the day. Then you can get in your car and drive home, that accident should be cleared up by then, just a quick drive home then you can sort this out.
  113. >You don't know if you'll make it that long.
  114. >You try to focus on the functions, again.
  115. >X squared? That's easy, that's a quadratic, you know that. It forms a parabola arch thing when graphed.
  116. >X cubed is a little tricky. That's that weird one, kinda looks like a wave. You think it crosses through the origin?
  117. >One over X? Rational, you think. You'd like to act rational. You are.
  118. >Approaches zero but never touches its asymptopes-
  119. >You hate how she says asymptopes, she pronounces it "ass-muh-topes"
  120. >The M comes AFTER the Y, fuck. Asymptopes, it's not hard.
  121. >Your irrational anger at the way your teacher pronounces a word occupies you for a few minutes until the bell rings once more.
  122.  
  123. >Dawn of the Fourth Period.
  124. >History.
  125. >It's not your best class but you don't particularly dislike it.
  126. >It's in the other building on campus, the same as the band room and the foreign languages, so it's a bit of a trek over there.
  127. >You're suddenly struck with the urge to use the restroom, so you rush to the nearest one, trying not to draw any eyes.
  128. >You move quickly on your toes, hunched over a little bit. You try to keep your head down, so your new... skin condition...? doesn't give you any unwanted attention.
  129. >You enter the bathroom, there's no one else except for some guy in an occupied stall.
  130. >As you pass the mirror, you catch a glimpse of yourself and have to stop to take a look-
  131. >Woah! Are your eyes a different colour?
  132. >You lean in, taking in your changing face.
  133. >Yep- your eyes had begun to brighten from their previous greenish-brown into an unnatural red-orange.
  134. >Blinking, you glance at the rest of your face.
  135. >Being able to properly see the fur, now- because that's what it was, you realize, after running your hands through it. It was soft to the touch, almost like a cat's, though it seems it was growing to be a little longer and a little coarser.
  136. >As well, as you run your hands across it, the structure is subtly different, becoming somewhat broader, and you swear your nose looks bigger.
  137. >Speaking of which, your hands didn't seem to be affected, yet, though you think you saw the beginnings of the fur creeping out from under your sleeves.
  138. >Oh, right, the call of nature.
  139. >You stand in front of the urinal and try to unzip your pants, but you can't really get a hold of the zipper.
  140. >You relieve yourself, not noticing anything odd during the process. A welcome change.
  141. >Well, aside from the fur still coating your legs and now groin area.
  142. >Zipping back up, you head to History.
  143.  
  144. >Taught by a younger teacher, Ms. Cook. You think she's in her late twenties, though you don't know, it's never come up.
  145. >She's kinda hip, as the children say.
  146. >She doesn't really like lecturing but she still does it anyways.
  147. >That's what she was doing today, judging from the directions on the board.
  148. >She also taught art, and she had these tall tables that were equipped with stools.
  149. >You hop onto one in your usual spot. Katie's there, she's alright. You've hit it off pretty well this year, though not romantically or anything.
  150. >She's really chill and easy to talk to. Says she wants to be a psychologist one day.
  151. >Maybe she'd be able to help you with this- granted, it might all be a vivid hallucination, and you're not really covered in fur, and you're just walking oddly.
  152. "Hey Katie."
  153. >She looks up at you from her phone, seeing your changed face.
  154. >"Hey Anon, what's up? Aren't your eyes normally brown?"
  155. "No, they're more of a greenish-brown, or hazel, really- anyways, am I schizophrenic, or is there hair growing on my face and arm?"
  156. >You slide your sleeve down to show her.
  157. >She takes a look and shrugs.
  158. >"Well, you're not schizophrenic, that's for sure. I can see it, too. And your eyes."
  159. >You breathe a sigh of relief, slumping down in the stool before realizing that that's nothing to be relieved about.
  160. >This means that this is actually happening.
  161. >It's concerning, to say the least.
  162. >"Well when did this start?"
  163. "This morning, I think. I noticed it in second period."
  164. >She puts a hand to her chin, thinking.
  165. >"Think it was something you caught on the band trip?"
  166. >You shrug.
  167. "I don't know, it's possible. What kind of virus would make fur start sprouting all over my body, and change my eye colour?"
  168. >She raises an eyebrow.
  169. >"And your hair colour too, apparently. Nice shade of blue. Otherwise, I dunno."
  170. "What?"
  171. >She opens her camera, taking a picture and turning her phone around to show you.
  172. >You take a strand of it in your hands, bringing it down in front of your eyes watching as your medium-length brown hair becomes long, thick strands of a light-ish violet.
  173. >You sit back, groaning. This kept getting worse.
  174. "Think I should check out after lunch?"
  175. >"Yeah, what do you have for the rest of the day, anyways? It's right after this period so it shouldn't be too much longer."
  176. "Uh... Chem, English- we have the same classes, Katie."
  177. >She nods.
  178. >"Riiight. Yeah, sounds like a plan. Well, have fun. Don't die."
  179. >"Alright! Phones up, get out your notebooks. We're taking notes today."
  180. >A collective groan sounds out from the class, but you're not sure why. Taking notes is super easy, you just have to write down what is said.
  181. >Barely any thinking even required, it's great.
  182. >At least it would be if you could remember how to use your hand...
  183. >You clumsily grip the pencil, finding it harder and harder to clench onto it.
  184. >You give up on writing, electing instead to just try to pay attention.
  185. >"So, the Suez Crisis. Does anyone know anything about the Suez canal?"
  186. >There's silence, but one kid speaks up. You recognize him, you think he's called Jimmy.
  187. >"Wait, isn't that in that one Billy Joel song? You know... -trouble in the Suez!"
  188. >Cook lights up, turning to him.
  189. >"Yes, exactly! This is what that's referencing. Now, the Suez canal runs through Egypt..."
  190.  
  191. >"...and that's how that conflict ended. Now, we've got a few minutes left, so I'll just leave you guys to it. Answer those questions online, and I'll see you tomorrow."
  192. >She walked back behind her desk and starting rifling through some papers, as the peace created by the lecture collapses and the other students start talking amongst themselves.
  193. >You turned back to Katie, and she's looking at you, a little spooked, now.
  194. "What is it? Did something happen?"
  195. >"Your- your ears..."
  196. >She takes out her phone again, shakily showing you your digital reflection.
  197. >What the actual fuck?
  198. >Somehow, while you were distracted, your ears had migrated to the top of your head, becoming long and floppy. They looked almost horse-like, coated in a svelte material the same shade as your fur.
  199. >You run a hand along them, feeling the contact from both sides...
  200. >You found you were unable to control them, really, as they dangled loosely along your head.
  201. >Now this was...
  202. >You weren't going to lie. This was bonkers.
  203. >But there was no time for that, the bell just rung.
  204. >Maybe you should go with the eat-lunch-and-leave plan.
  205. >Yeah, that sounds great.
  206. "Katie, do you know what we're having for lunch today?"
  207. >"...chicken, I think."
  208. >She was staring at your ears, now the only one left in the room since Ms Cook had stepped out to get something.
  209. >Mesmorized, she reaches out a hand to touch them and you lean back, avoiding her touch.
  210. >She winces apologetically, immediately withdrawing.
  211. >"Oops, sorry. They, just... what do they feel like?"
  212. "Like ears- er, cat ears, I guess. A little thicker."
  213. >She nods, getting up.
  214. >"Well, let's go, then."
  215. >You follow her to the lunchroom, donning your hood on your way out of the room.
  216. >Your face was now almost completely covered in the white fur, but from a distance it just looked like you had really pale skin.
  217. >You're glad you're not alone anymore, now someone else could share in what you thought was a descent into madness.
  218. >You roll your shoulders as you notice something poking into the small of your back from your backpack.
  219. >You take it off, but there's nothing on the backpack. Running a hand along your waistband, you feel a small nub forming out of your tailbone.
  220. >You stop, calling ahead to Katie.
  221. "I think I'm growing a tail."
  222. >She turns around, shrugging.
  223. >"You did just grow ears, I guess that's not that far of a stretch."
  224. >You try to keep it in your pants, but it is causing you some discomfort.
  225.  
  226. >Before long you're in the lunchroom, and you manage to get ahold of a tray and sit down across from Katie.
  227. >Immediately upon taking a bite of chicken you make a face and spit it out.
  228. >"What's up?"
  229. "It's nasty."
  230. >She just frowns, looking down at the food.
  231. "The chicken isn't normally this bad... does yours taste any different?"
  232. >She shakes her head.
  233. >"Mine's fine."
  234. >She reaches over and grabs one of your nuggets, taking a bite out of it.
  235. >"Yours is fine, too. It's you, dude."
  236. >She gets a mischevious look on her face.
  237. >"I guess you could say that your... palette is changing."
  238. >She snorts, watching your hair get a little longer and a little more violet.
  239. "I can't believe you just did that. I'm growing ears and a tail and you're making homophone puns."
  240. >She points at the tray.
  241. >"You gonna finish that?"
  242. >You push your tray over to her.
  243. "I'm not hungry anyways."
  244. >She tears into the chicken nuggets with vigor and you sigh, electing instead to munch on the bag of refrigerated baby carrots the school provided.
  245. >You think you preferred this, anyway.
  246. >Once you finish your carrots you stand up and leave.
  247. >"Where are you going?"
  248. "I'm just going to hide in the bathroom until this finishes- if it finishes- and we'll figure out what to do from there."
  249. >She nods.
  250. >"See you in... Chem, then?"
  251. "Probably."
  252.  
  253. >Back in the bathroom, again.
  254. >You drop your hood to appreciate the face in the mirror.
  255. >It barely looks like you anymore.
  256. >You can still see elements of you in there, but...
  257. >The fur, horsey ears, and red-orange eyes- and muzzle, now, apparently- really detract from that.
  258. >Suddenly, it feels like something is stabbing you in your side, though it quickly subsides.
  259. >You tear off your shirt, revealing the fur-covered chest underneath, and two feathery nubs sticking out of your back. This proves to be too much for you to handle, and you turn away from the mirror to hide in the handicapped stall, throwing your shirt over the bars on the walls after you slide the lock closed.
  260. >You sit down, leaning back against the wall.
  261. >You were gonna ride this out and hope you weren't dead by the time it was over.
  262. >You watch as the fur continues growing. Your shoes start feeling like they're too tight, so you try to kick them off.
  263. >You find that your feet are now losing any defined structure, elongating and ripping your socks while your leg bones do the opposite, seeming to shrink in on themselves.
  264. >You fall over onto the ground, feeling your bones rearranging...
  265. >You thank whatever entity is responsible for this that you aren't feeling any pain.
  266. >The next thing you noticed were your hands, which simply weren't there any more. They had merged together into, upon closer inspection, what appeared to be a hoof.
  267. "Wh..."
  268. >You try to say something about what kind of joke this was, but you find yourself unable to speak, your voice breaking on the first syllable.
  269. >Oh god, what was happening to you?
  270. >Your bone structure continues creaking and morphing, and you find that those nubs on your back had begun growing into wings, feathers sprouting out of the new support structures that were being created.
  271. >That tail you had almost forgotten about pokes out of your now too-big pants, and you find that you're starting to slide out of it. Strands of hair fall across your legs, and you feel it twitching involuntarily.
  272. >Suddenly, you feel an empty hollowness inside of you like someone had taken a spoon and scooped out part of your stomach.
  273. >You feel a tugging at your groin, and the next moment you don't have a penis anymore.
  274. >You clench your eyes shut, feeling all of this and wishing it was over, already.
  275.  
  276. >After what feels like hours, you think that the hand of God has stopped rearranging your body.
  277. >Quivering, you open your eyes.
  278. >What greets you is a pile of clothes, and an equine-looking body.
  279. >Your body.
  280. >You're lying on your side, curled up in a ball. As you stop clenching, your body responds by loosening up so that you're more spread out.
  281. >You lift a... foreleg? into your vision and examine it.
  282. >Turning it over, you watch as your altered muscles flex around your joints.
  283. >You have the strange sensation of being able to clench your fingers, but nothing happens except a twitch in the frog of your hoof.
  284. >At least you weren't dead.
  285. >Twisting your elongated neck around, you look at your barrel and hind, and...
  286. >Wings. You have large, feathery wings.
  287. >Could you fly?
  288. >You have no idea.
  289. >They look like they might be big enough.
  290. >They're hanging limply at your sides, and you try to bring them back in, feeling new muscles to control.
  291. >You manage to retract them, holding them against your barrel.
  292. >You also have a long violet tail, and you give it an experimental flick, the hair cascading back over your flanks.
  293. >So, you're a horse, now.
  294. >This should be interesting.

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