|A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.|
...And This Little Piggy Stayed Home
I awoke sweating and nauseous, the mild uneasiness of last night having grown into a full-blown flu bug. I didn't feel much like getting out of bed this morning, let alone going to school, and I waited until my mother came upstairs to prompt me to get up.
"I feel really bad," I complained. "Can I stay home from school today?"
My mother frowned, slightly suspicious; I had tried to pull this trick once or twice before. But she also looked concerned, and reached out to feel my forehead. Her frown deepened as she felt my skin. "You do seem to be running a fever," she said carefully. "perhaps you are coming down with something. Tell you what, I'll go get a thermometer and we'll see what happens. Okay?"
I nodded, and she backed out of the room. It was a little worrying; usually she didn't like to rely on things like thermometers, preferring her 'mother's touch'. I must be running a very high fever indeed for her to be worried like that. But I wasn't too worried myself; I didn't feel all that bad. Mainly just tired and sore. In fact, this might just get me out of several days of school. There was a long weekend coming up in a few days; if I could stay sick until then, I'd get almost an entire week off.
After resting for several minutes in bed, mom still hadn't returned and I was getting a little restless. I had to go to the bathroom, and I eventually decided I might as well do that right now. Struggling to my feet, I shuffled down the hall to the bathroom door. As I passed the stairs I heard mom and dad talking in the kitchen, in a low and tense tone of voice, but I didn't want to eavesdrop so I didn't hesitate for long. I went into the bathroom and groggily relieved myself. I felt kind of strange, but I guess puberty is supposed to do that to you; I had just started growing hair in new places a month ago, and I was already having to deal with morning erections and wet dreams. I had come to expect strange changes like that by now. Flushing, I turned to head back to my room.
I caught sight of myself in the mirror first, though, and hesitated. I really did look pretty terrible; my skin was pale, my face looked kind of puffy, and my hair was rumpled and sweaty. I reached up and tried to straighten it out a bit with my fingers. That's when I discovered what mom had felt when she'd touched my forehead. My skin had sprouted sparse bristly hairs, almost invisible to the naked eye, and my normal hairline had retreated several inches at least. I gasped in shock, clutching my face and pressing on my swollen cheeks. Though none of the changes hurt particularly, these symptoms were much worse than any normal flu should have been producing! I continued rubbing my face and head, my sunken eyes searching fearfully for any more differences. I found one quite quickly; my ears had changed drastically. They were pointed, flattened, and clearly not at all humanlike.
Mom and dad came rushing up the stairs in response to my frantic cries for help. Both froze for a second at the bathroom door, staring at me, and then my mother gently grabbed my shoulders and tried to calm me down. "It's all right, honey," she assured me, "everything's going to be alright."
"What's happening to me?" I nearly screamed. "I'm mutating!"
Mom shook her head. "No, you're not mutating. Please don't panic, Franklin! I think I know exactly what's going on here, and it's going to be alright. Just calm down and I'll explain, okay?"
I glanced fearfully at the mirror again, looking at my altered features again; I don't know if my expression of horror was contributing or not, but I looked even worse. My nostrils were flaring, my lower jaw was thrust forward slightly, and my ears now stuck out of my hair at an angle to the sides of my head. But mom sounded sincere, so I tried to follow her advice. I tried to slow my breathing and racing heart.
After about ten seconds, she seemed satisfied with my self- control and let go of my shoulders. "Okay, that's good. Everything is under control again. I think we should go downstairs now, we can all sit in the living room and discuss this." She glanced meaningfully at my dad, who averted his gaze slightly.
"But what's happening to me?" I whined plaintively.
"Come downstairs. I really think you should be sitting down for this."
I sat in the armchair, facing my mom and dad on the couch opposite me, staring at my hands in shock. They were quite unfamiliar to me now; my fingers were getting a lot stubbier, and my nails had become thicker almost as I had watched. My mom had just told me why.
"I'm a werepig?" I demanded, still disbelieving despite the apparent evidence in front of me.
My mom nodded unhappily. "Yes. My side of the family are werepigs; it looks like I passed it on to you after all."
"You're a werepig too, mom?" This was all too much to take in at once, just discovering that I was one myself was too much.
"Actually, she isn't." My father quickly corrected. "Your mother didn't inherit the curse. That's why we didn't tell you; we thought you were safe from it."
My mother glared at him. "It's not a curse, dear. It's just a condition, like red hair or dark skin."
"But... but..." I was suddenly cut short by a cramp in my stomach, and I doubled over with a squeal of pain. Mom and dad leapt to their feet and rushed to my side, but by the time they got to me it was already over and was clutching my slowly growing snout instead. "I made that noise," I mumbled in embarrassment.
"It's okay honey," mom said reassuringly as she held me. "The first time is always the hardest. It gets easier."
"S-so I'll turn back again?" I asked numbly. I was starting to believe what she had told me, as strange as it sounded.
"Of course you will! Werepigs are human most of the time, don't you worry about that. Nobody'll know the difference."
That reassured me a little, at least, and after a few minutes I managed to push most of my fear into the background for a while. I grunted as another ripple of change passed through me, the significance of the feeling quite obvious to me now, and once I'd caught my breath I managed to ask "what's happening now?"
"You're still changing," my mother explained calmingly. "It's all right, everything is still going just like I remember from back home. My brother, uncle Albert, went through this himself when I was eight."
"Uncle Al?" I repeated with astonishment.
She nodded. "He's a werepig too, dear. So you see you're not alone in this."
I nodded, but whispered "I'm still scared." She hugged me closer, and I tried to return the gesture. My arms were already getting shorter and less flexible, though, and my hands looked about halfway to hooves now; I flexed my stiff fingers and realized they were barely able to grip things. Detailed manipulation would be impossible. "Mom, my hands..." She smiled and held one in her own.
"Looks like you've come along pretty far already, young man. Don't worry, you'll get your old hands back when you change back again. Right now, I think we'd better get you undressed or you'll ruin your pyjamas.
"Oh, no!" I grunted and blushed in embarrassment; I was too old to be undressed in front of my parents. But I guess I could see the logic, my waistband was already pretty tight. My parents helped pull the pyjamas off of me with some effort, and I stared down at my exposed body with astonishment. A lot of changes had been going on under my clothes that I hadn't been able to spare the attention to notice. My legs had drastically altered, my feet lengthening even as my thighs and shins had shortened; I had ham hocks now. The hooves on my toes were even further along in the change than my hands were, virtually complete, and with a small squeal of pain I discovered a tail growing out of my butt. I didn't need a mirror to see my snout, small tusks already poking out from under my upper lip, and my torso was definitely on the pudgy side now. I groaned in dismay.
"What is it?" My mother asked with concern.
"I'm a pig," I grunted. It was getting hard to speak now, but it was just sinking in. "Why couldn't I be something cooler, like a wolf?"
My mother smiled understandingly. "We can't all be cool, dear." It was actually a line she'd used on me before, back when I'd only had to worry about wearing uncool clothing.
Shortly afterward I became unable to speak or sit comfortably upright in the chair. Mom and dad helped lower me to the carpeted floor where I stood unsteadily on all fours. It wasn't at all like crawling; my knees were well above the ground, I was up on tiptoes and fingertips. I couldn't do much more than just stand there while the changes finished, mom and dad sitting on either side to prevent me from falling over. The physical contact also helped keep me feeling somewhat more secure, despite my understandable terror at what was happening to me.
While we waited for my transformation to finish my mom told me more about her side of the family and the secret of their 'condition'. They had been werepigs for as many generations as they had records for, back into the sixteenth century and probably long before that. No other families of werepigs were known to exist, and there weren't even many legends about werepigs, but that didn't necessarily mean there weren't any.
Dad was unusually silent throughout all of this, and in an effort to keep my mind off of my own predicament I turned my head toward him and tried to ask him about his take on all of this. Unfortunately, by now I could only manage to produce an inarticulate grunt. He returned my gaze with a somewhat stricken expression and gently scratched the back of my neck, muttering "I'm sorry. I didn't know, didn't know you'd inherit this, or... I would have told you. I'm sorry we kept this from you, son." I tried to tell him it was alright, but was once again thwarted by my new throat and mouth.
"I think you're finished changing," mom interjected at this point, and I returned my attention to her. I grunted questioningly. "Yes, you're as fully a pig as you're going to get. It's not going to get any worse, it can only get better from here on. Are you feeling okay?"
I nodded and tried to smile in relief, and I think I got the expression across clearly because mom smiled back. "Good, you seem to be taking it well enough. Just remember, we're here for you right now. I'll stay with you until you're back in human form again." I smiled again; even though I felt that I was taking this well right now, it was only because my parents were here and knew what was going on.
Eventually, I felt reassured enough to want to try moving around a bit on my own in my new body. It turned out to be really easy; my center of gravity was low to the ground, and my limbs were quite strong. I didn't feel nearly as awkward or heavy as I would have expected a pig to feel. It was quite strange looking up at everything from the floor, however...
Mom reassured me that within a day or so I would automatically change back into a human, and that all I had to do was wait. At first I wanted to just lie in bed and try to ignore the situation until then. I did spend several hours up there trying to sleep, doing my best with only grunts and squeals to ask mom and dad to leave me to my privacy for a while; now that the fear was control, I was feeling quite embarrassed about my condition and didn't want them to see me like this. Running around naked was bad enough, but as a naked pig...
Eventually boredom drove me back out of bed. I wasn't really sleepy, and I wouldn't have been able to fall asleep even if I was; even though it was frightening and embarrassing, this body and all its sensations were new and fascinating as well. It was hard climbing off the bed without mom and dad's help, but I managed it without taking a tumble and went back downstairs to watch some TV. I think mom was relieved when she saw I wasn't going to spend the whole day sulking in my room, and she sat down next to where I lay on the carpet. She helped me change the channel to what I managed to request with my system of grunts. I'm not sure what dad thought, though. He just seemed distant and withdrawn. I wondered if he was taking this harder than I was now.
By lunchtime I was getting quite hungry, and managed to indicate this easily by trotting into the kitchen and nudging the appropriate cupboards. I was adapting quite well to this form if I do say so myself; my hooves only slipped a little bit on the linoleum, and when mom put a plate of vegetables and sandwiches on the floor for me I dug in without hesitation. Mom even admonished me for eating like a pig. I finished quickly and grinned, licking my chops in satisfaction.
Afterward, I went back to watch some more TV while mom cleaned up in the kitchen. Pigs certainly knew how to relax, I thought to myself as I lay comfortably sprawled on my side; I could even get to enjoy this for a while. It was hard to operate the remote with just a cloven forehoof, but with practice I suspected I could manage. I was sure I'd never be able to play any video games in this form, though. I guess nothing's perfect.
I eventually had had my fill of TV, and mom had become confident enough of my own self-confidence to stop watching every move I made, so I trotted back upstairs to my room on my own. There wasn't much else I could do up there right now, but at least it was a change of scenery and a chance at a little privacy for a while. Nudging the door shut with my nose, I explored myself again as best as I could without a mirror. It was really amazing; I was a pig, but it felt okay. It even felt good! I was physically limited, I couldn't even get up on my bed without a boost, but I didn't mind it that much. I shook my head and grunted quietly to myself, having a hard time believing I had accepted this so easily. I still would have preferred to be a werewolf, but I guess I could live with this if it were only an occasional occurrence. It was like a little vacation from my regular life.
There was a light knock on my door, and I managed to grunt an almost understandable "come in". Dad slipped hesitantly into my room and knelt down to speak with me.
"Son," he said quietly, "I wanted to tell you a few things. Things your mother didn't want to mention, things I'm a little bit ashamed of. But I don't want to keep any more secrets from you."
I sat on my haunches and looked up at him worriedly, prompting him with a questioning grunt to go on.
"When I first met your mother," he continued reluctantly, "I didn't know about the pig thing. I don't hold that against her, I understand her family's need for secrecy about this. She only told me after we got engaged." He drew a deep breath. "It really freaked me out. I broke off the engagement for a while; even though she didn't shapeshift herself, I just couldn't bring myself to... to love someone who..." he faltered, struggling to find the right words.
I think I understood what he meant, though, and that understanding drove a rather unpleasant stake into my heart. My expression obviously betrayed my feelings even in this form, and dad looked away in shame. "I'm sorry, son. I know you're as human as I am, and I do love your mother, but sometimes... well, I'm not always rational. It's a terrible thing, to feel things that you know are wrong..."
I didn't know what to say. First I find out I'm a werepig, and then just when it begins to seem not so bad my own father tells me he doesn't like them. He even implied that he wouldn't always consider me completely human! But at the same time, he really seemed upset that he felt that way. And he had eventually married mom, after all; perhaps one day he'd be able to feel better about me being what I was, too. After a moment's awkward thought on how to best express myself, I approached him and rubbed my cheek on his knee.
Dad smiled in relief, and reached down to scratch me lightly behind the ear. I grunted in pleasure and sat down next to him, and we spent a little while longer talking together. Or rather, dad talking and I listening. I'm sure it was difficult for dad to share a father/son moment with a pig like that, but that only made it all the more significant. When dad finally left me alone again, I was positively glowing. It was going to be alright.
I finally did fall asleep again late in the afternoon, sprawled comfortably on the carpet after a large supper that I had eaten with somewhat more restraint than I had shown my lunch. When I woke from my nap a few hours later, I felt the now- familiar cramps of an approaching transformation. I squealed, this time more out of relief than pain.
Mom had been sitting on the couch reading a newspaper while I slept, and jumped in surprise at my exclamation. I couldn't help but chuckle. "What is it, dear?" She asked with concern. "Do you feel anything?" I nodded emphatically, and she smiled. "Oh, good. I was worried you were behind schedule. Would you like me to hold you while you change?"
Flushing in embarrassment, I shook my head. I wanted to do this by myself as much as possible, even though it wasn't as if I was actually doing anything. I remained lying where I was, trying to relax and pay attention to what was going on. Mom had told me that I would one day be able to partially control my changes myself, though not always whenever I felt like it; I had wonderful visions of being able to get out of school anytime I wanted just by changing into a pig and claiming it had happened involuntarily. I might even be able to pause the change partway through someday, remaining half pig and half human. That sounded extremely interesting.
For now, however, I was glad enough just to be returning to my old form again. My limbs slowly began lengthening again as my heavy torso thinned, and my snout gradually pulled back into my face again. Soon I even had my old hair back. Within ten minutes I was a normal, if naked, human boy again. "Speaking. I can talk again!" I exclaimed happily. "Oh my god, that was weird!" I climbed back to my feet and flexed my fingers, turning away from my parents in embarrassment. I had become used to nudity as a pig, but now I had to go get some clothes back on!
"Um, honey," mom called, stopping me in my tracks before I could even get started.
"What?" I asked nervously.
"I just realized, there was one more detail about becoming a mature werepig I forgot to mention until now." She gestured helplessly at me. "Uh, your tail..."
I grabbed my hind end, and yelped in surprise as I discovered that just as she'd indicated I still had a pig's tail growing out of it. "Oh no! It's not going to go away?"
Mom shook her head apologetically. "No. A few of my relatives have even tried having them cut off, but it always grew back the next time they changed. It's not too noticeable, really, especially with the right underwear..."
Blushing fiercely, I rushed upstairs to get dressed.