A New Beginning

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A New Beginning

Author: Pocsock
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Copyediting is welcome
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Work on this story is on hiatus.
This story is currently on hiatus, as I'm busy for the moment in real life.

The reason I'm posting it here is mainly to get feedback. Any comment or correction (like spelling and/or grammar mistakes) will be appreciated.

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We’re entering a new age. The natural laws are blending and breaking in ways they have never done before. The pillars of knowledge shake before our very own eyes. What we once thought of only as a myth, is starting to fuse into reality itself...”



I walked to the lady in the desk, an anthropomorphic lioness with long brown hair and bright amber fur.

“Hi. How may I help you?” she said with a younger voice than what she looked like. Not that I was especially good at calculating age, even if the person wasn’t part animal.

“Hi. I have an appointment with Alice” she then took a good look at me, seeing only a teenager that had not taken a shower in a while and with a wild hair. Nothing extraordinary at all, but she smiled at me either way as if she already new something about me that I ignored.

“She’s busy at the moment with another volunteer” she said politely “She’ll receive you the moment she’s done with him. You can make yourself comfortable while you wait”

“Thanks” I said and then continued to sit on a nearby chair.

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As time slowly crept away, my mind began to wander into deep thoughts, as was usual for me in this kind of situations. My train of thoughts began with the scenery in front of me, a large reception desk. The curious thing about it was neither the size nor the decoration, although it was indeed big and very nicely decorated, but the people that were constantly coming in and out of the enormous double sliding doors towards all the different parts of the building. They were animals, going from the anthropomorphic ones to others with apparently no difference from what you might find in your local zoo, except they were smarter; cyborgs, as in persons with some kind of prosthesis or other mechanical enhancement; any strange combination of animals, human and robot that I could dare think of; and humans that could be counted with one hand, including me. Not that it had always been like that, there was a time when only humans walked down the street, only humans attended to school, only humans bought on a supermarket, then IRF came.

The International Research Fund was built as a way to promote pure scientific research and development, giving top equipment, space, technology and funds to anyone with enough brains to convince the IRF board, and then patenting all the results among the researchers and the IRF itself. Basically, it was a big enterprise that gathered all the ideas that the other companies didn’t find useful for themselves and put them in good use, following a strict ethical protocol and sharing all the income among all its workers, including the broken scientists that had come up with the ideas in the first place. It had been successful almost from its beginnings with a lot of capital, its international relations, its extremely accurate talent for business and a lot of crazy ideas from all the rejected, and somewhat mad, scientists in the world.

It had been IRF the one that had come up with the Passion Process, also known as the Transformational Process and named by its creator. No one knew exactly how the process worked or why it only affected a selected number of individuals, as the IRF kept everything regarding the project in secret. All that anyone knew was that you came in as a normal human and could come out with the beginnings of a series of changes that will gradually transform you into something else in a matter of days. The transformations were completely random, or so claimed IRF, and could go from a subtle change in skin pigmentation, to making a kid walk again after everyone else said it was impossible, to gaining animalistic characteristics and parts, to even becoming an imaginary creature such as a Pegasus or mermaid; without messing with the mind and changing who you are. Some claimed it was the discovery of the century, others said it was of the millennium, and ever since it was announced it has been offered for free to anyone willing to take it, as to research the process on a deeper level in order to make a better use of it in future treatments.

Just about then, a man stepped out of the elevator. I noticed that he had an envelope on his right hand and that his pupils were slits as he passed by me. He had a gloomy air around him that sent a chill down my spine despite my best attempts to ignore him.

“You can go up to meet her now” said the lioness, and then I stepped in the elevator.

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It was this door alright, or so said the piece of paper held in my hand. I put it away in a passing recycle bin and took a deep breath in preparation before entering through it.

The office was big compared to your standard office cubicle. Of course everything here in IRF had to be bigger than standard due to the kind of workers they had. Not that there weren’t any humans at all working in the building, but it was a well-known fact that IRF had the highest amount of transformed people in its ranks, and all its working spaces were adapted to meet all the requirements every single one of them would ever dream of, like a claw-resistant carpet, perches for the bird-types that weren’t comfortable on normal chairs, a continuous air flow for the ones with sensitive noses, windows coverings that could make the rooms as dark as night for persons with a nocturnal tendency and, of course, a large size in everything so that the big morphs could come and go without trouble.

Nevertheless, this place seemed fancier than the average I had seen on my way here. It was enveloped in the green and colors of plants and flowers that I had only seen on pictures of rainforests, and every single one of it was alive and growing in this well lit but small environment. There was even a fountain with a little marble fairy on a corner.

“You must be Spencer” a horse-lady with a rather showy gleaming crystal horn on her, I assumed, forehead said coming from my right. She was dressed in a tailored, it had to be tailored as it fitted her perfectly, black dress that was so common among working women nowadays. “I was expecting you” she said approaching me and then offering her furred hand “I’m Alice, but around here everyone calls me Gaia”

I took it “I prefer to be called S. If you don’t mind”

“Not at all,” she said and then we disengaged. “please, let’s have a seat” she said, pointing at the desk near the window.

“I take it your nickname comes from the Greek goddess of the earth,” I said as I sat on a synthetic leather chair with an orange flower growing from the armrest “and from the rather green decoration”

“You could say that,” she said sitting on the other side of the wooden and clumsily made desk, her tail swishing through a hole “I’ve always had a knack for plants”

Then silence came while Gaia took out some papers from a drawer and read them silently.

“Interesting” she finally said “Your tests show a probability of almost ninety five percent for Passion to take a positive effect on you”

I remembered that test that I had done two days before. It was designed as a means to determine more accurately in which person the Transformation Process would take effect, although it wasn’t a hundred percent failsafe. It was made as a means to reduce ‘causalities’, but mainly to cut out extra expenses to IRF. It consisted on physical, medical and psychological tests that were compared later on with others tests of individuals in which Passion had worked. It had been a surprise that I had gotten such a high probability.

“But its not a hundred percent” I said.

“Don’t worry about that,” she assured me “that five percent is a margin of error in the statistics due to the randomness of the process. I have no doubts that Passion will get to you” she smiled.

I would have laughed at the joke. After all, it’s called Passion when it only has helpful effects on someone, like taking off some age traits and curing diabetes, so she believed I wasn’t going to get changed. But nervousness had a strong grip on me. All I could do was nod at her.

“I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t be able to take the procedure tomorrow with…”

“Couldn’t it be today?” I quickly asked.

She then looked at me, and I could see her nostrils swell just a little bit bigger. She smelled my emotions, like an open book through her ultra sensitive nose, little hormones, sweat and humidity that my body expelled and her senses could translate directly, almost like another language. People thought this was impossible or regarded is as a rumor, but I was certain she was doing it right there, before my eyes. Thankfully, I also knew that she would think I was feeling eagerness.

“I’m sorry,” she finally said to me and then activated a holographic screen. Top technology, very expensive and a little bit blurry because of all the light in the room, but it clearly showed a schedule of some sort “but all the facilities are busy until tomorrow…” my heart sank at that thought, and she noted it “I can manage to squeeze you in the first turn of the morning, if you want it”

“That would be nice” I said, still a little down by the news. She then moved some things on the projection.

“That would be all,” she said after she was done, and looked at me with friendly eyes “out of the record. I only want to ask you a rather personal question, if you don’t mind”

“Go ahead” I said.

“Why did you choose to take Passion?”

I smiled at sensing her curiosity “What better way to begin a change in my life?”

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“How did it go?” the guy’s raspy voice came from beneath his heavy raincoat and brown hat.

“Tomorrow morning,” I said, throwing the appointment plastic card to him “She ‘squeezed’ me in”

“She must have really liked you,” the man said as he smiled beneath those dark glasses and the scar near his lips “we know that the morning turns are completely full until next month.”

We were on a nice little building, in the worst neighborhood of downtown that anyone could have imagined. Bars and all kinds of exotic night clubs ran through every block of this god forsaken place, along with the normal liquor store and homeless. Of all the places, this was the most exclusive, the most expensive and the emptiest place of them all. There was no doubt in my mind that it only served as a house for all kind of illegal activities of the highest positioned people of the city.

As for the man right in front of me, he didn’t have the need for the entire disguise he was wearing at the moment. You could kill ten persons here and they would have had it cleaned in less than a minute, and only because of the corpses’ bad smell. This only made me think he must have one of the worst tastes in fashion ever. That was evident even to me, and I don’t even care about fashion. “Spit it out already,” I told him “what are you going to do to me?” he then took out a syringe of some sort.

I yelped at the sight of it, not being the sort that stands needles very well. “This,” he said “is a bio-signs sensor. It will allow us to know exactly what happens to your body as the process progress”

“Are you sure they won’t be able to detect it?” I said, more concerned of IRF than the needle right now.

“It’s nanobotic technology,” he said after I willingly let him have my arm and he began cleaning it “we have an advantage over them in this field”

I tried to remember why I was doing this as I allowed the strange object puncture my body.

I had left home for a while now. Not that it had ever been my home, but rather a house that helped to hold me and my parents from the outside world, and what an important job that was. We couldn’t stay in the same room for more than two minutes, I once counted them myself, before a lousy argument began among the three of us. My dad couldn’t handle it and eventually divorced my mom and moved as far away as he could. Then, after a rather sour discussion, I decided to run away. I don’t think my mom even noticed the difference as I hadn’t seen any sign with my face printed on them during all this time. I used the name S just in case someone erroneously thought I had a good family and they were probably searching for me and missed me. Like that witch had ever wanted to have me in the first place.

I began to reckon how I got here as the cold liquid entered my body while I looked the other way, clenching my teeth.

It was tougher on the streets than what I had originally thought of. With no money, no house and no food, I was officially a homeless teenager. I even remember that returning home had crossed my mind on several occasions, until the hat man came.

I really don’t know his name and don’t need it anyways. He had come to me one day and offered me a diner, the best one in my whole life, and a room to stay for the night with the only condition I took the Passion test. He even forged an approval of my parents for me to take the test, this was necessary both because, along with some other papers, if I passed I would go immediately through the process and IRF would aid me in changing my identity to suit my new form (If I changed at that degree), and because I was a minor.

I saw an opportunity here. I knew that many big companies were starting to break down and even going bankrupt thanks to IRF. They were desperate to take IRF down, and saw a chance when the Passion Process came. As was normal in any kind of discovery, the Transformation Process was being heavily criticized ever since it came out by everyone, the churches, the tree-huggers, the human rights. The only thing that had saved them was IRF’s ethical code, that had reached a loop of reason that had not been broken until now; the total control they had concerning the whole project as it may not be used in any immoral way, that’s why they kept everything in secret; and the constant support of the majority of governments, as IRF has a program that has helped the education all around the globe. Knowing this, it was only logical to think that this guy was from the competence and wanted more than to help a homeless, but I wouldn’t get nothing else from him unless I passed the test, which fortunately I did, and with honors.

I became his best buddy after that. He invited me to restaurants, bought me new clothes and everything I asked for, and even got me my own place. Everything I wanted would be mine, and I only had to do one thing, go through Passion.

I knew what he wanted and he knew what I wanted, so there were no secrets between us. I took advantage of this and sucked any valuable information I could get out of him, as information is always useful, and concluded that he wanted to use me as a means to get important research data at the same time as IRF and maybe something that could be used against them in a court.

And so, I willingly obeyed everything he told me, including standing the injection that had finished by now without me ever noticing it.

“That should do it” he said as he took away the empty thing “Now you only have to follow the process exactly as they told you and you’ll live like a king for the rest of your life”

“I can hardly wait” I said, rubbing my swollen skin.

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The next morning I came earlier to yesterday’s same building, IRF Passion center number one. Maybe that was why this city was swelling with more transformees than any other? There should be many centers like this one, with the size of IRF. Thoughts for later on when I had time to ponder on them.

“Good morning” I said to the same lioness receptionist.

“Good morning,” she said excitedly, her tail showing it, yet another disadvantage of such appendage “how may I help you?”

“I have an appointment for…” I cleared my throat. She obviously saw my nervousness “Passion.”

“Could you show me your card?” she said and then I handed it to her.

She slid it in front of a small window in her polished amethyst desk. Her eyes shot wide as she saw the information that was quickly displayed on her HUD lenses, and for a moment I thought she saw me as a rather juicy steak of the best beef in the world, but she regained her posture and simply said “please, come with me” and with that she stood up and showed me the way.

As we were traveling through the corridors I noticed that many people were seeing me as I passed. Some of them tried to be discreet, to no avail, like that elephant that saw me from that last corner; and others simply stood staring at me without any discretion at all.

I tried to think what would be so special of my procedure that would make them, the ones who work here on a daily basis and have probably seen more transformations than I trees in my whole life, keep staring at me like I was some kind of oasis in the dessert, and that even the main receptionist had to leave her highly busy post as to make sure I wouldn’t change my mind all of a sudden. But my mind was at a complete lack of ideas on this topic as we arrived to the place.

“It’s here,” she said, pointing to a white door at the end of what was probably the last corridor in the place “good luck” she added with a smirk.

“Thanks” I said, but the words fell in the air as she was already gone. Having nothing else to do I took a deep breath and entered through the door.

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The room wasn’t as fancy as Gaia’s office. It was a stainless white and the corners and unions of walls with floor, ceiling and other walls have been concealed, leaving a room that seemed to have been made of a single piece of paper folded in an impossible way. At the end, there was a large window that was somewhat covered as to not allow too much light into the room, only the necessary one. There was a desk, a descent desk this time, near the window with an oval white chair between them both. There was someone on it, but he had his back to me so I couldn’t see him.

I was approaching closer as to try to speak to him, but then something hit the floor, rolled over to the wall and then to the floor again only to rest on my feet. It was a dark sphere with some kind of metal spaghettis on top of it, or so they had ended up looking like.

“Great,” a figure, glowing so white that it was hard and painful to even stare at, said as it approached the thing on the ground. “I still have a lot ahead of me before it works” he then picked it up and examined it a little.

“What is that thing?” I asked, curious of the little piece of now-junk.

He then noticed me and that I was trying to see the sphere while making a futile attempt at shielding my eyes of the strong light. “Oh. I’m sorry,” he apologized “internal lights” he said, and at once the window closed and the LED lights went on, that’s when I saw him clearly for the first time.

It was a dragon, no doubt about that, with his bat-like wings, his almost crystalline fangs and claws, his glimmering white scales that refracted many colors at the ends of them, his slit in an ocean of pure white eyes, his almost two-meters-long tail and a crest of a cross between scales and feathers that ran all the way from his head to the tip of his tail. I stayed there, observing him like a statue until he sat up again and spoke “this is a helicopter with a gyroscope inside as a means to guide it”

“A what?” I asked, coming out of my reverie at the sound of such complicated mess of words.

He chuckled “A helicopter with a big spinning wheel inside that was supposed to control it”

“Does it work?” I asked, not being my brightest moment as I took notice of what had just left my lips.

“Apparently not” he said as he threw it on the desk “I’ll work on it later. Please, have a seat” and we both took seats on the squeaky plastic.

“So” he said “you must be Spe… I mean, S”

“Yes, and you are…?”

“Michael” he said, opening his holographic projector. This one was brighter than Gaia’s and the hovering objects inside of it looked almost too real to be made out of energy and photons.

“Michael?” I said as the name suddenly hit a string in my head “As in ‘the’ Michael inventor of the Passion Process?” “The one and only” he answered.

This was impossible. I was talking to one of the brightest minds on the surface of the Earth! And, as usual, my tongue slipped away just a little. “Shouldn’t you be working on a bigger project?” I asked, realizing his office wasn’t as big as any other in the building.

“What could possibly be bigger than supervising my own project?” He said and continued working on the floating symbols. He had a point after all, maybe that was why this was building number one…

“I really liked your inaugural speech when you presented Passion” I said, being honest “for a guy that came out of nowhere and is now a well-known scientist all around the world, its pretty good”

“It had to be” he said, never taking his gaze off the screen “I had to convince the whole world that I wanted to help people with this and not turn them into abominations”

“Do you honestly believe that?” I asked, more out of curiosity than to express my negative stand against all of this.

“Why would I do it to me if I didn’t, or to my friends, or to cure my sick brother?” That left me speechless, even in my head. “Ok, I’ll explain the procedure to you now” he said clicking on a floating button.

A large chair appeared on the screen “First, is making yourself comfortable,” and the chair was filled with a dummy that reclined a little bit on the fluffed material “It is important to be completely relaxed during the whole thing” then some screens appeared with views of the sea and of snowy mountains on top of the dummy’s head, followed by music from some speakers near the head, a nice aroma that the simulation showed as a pink cloud coming from a necklace to the nose of the dummy, and slow vibrations from the chair.

“You’ll be practically cut off from the rest of the world until Passion is over. This is done in order to obey IRF laws and rules”

“To keep the process secret” I stated.

“Yes” he said. Normally, anyone would have given me an hour talk about how IRF was only trying to help organize this whole business together, or something like that. But he just dismissed it, as if it were unimportant “we’ll monitor all your vitals the whole time so we can unplug you if something goes wrong. Nothing to worry about though, we haven’t had an accident ever since the beginning of the project. But even so, there are top medical facilities on the lower floor, just in case,” he then closed the hologram “any questions?”

“A few actually” I said “Why was everyone out there looking at me a moment ago, and why did the lioness accompany me all the way here?

“Now that I think of it, maybe it was because I was seeing you” I thought out loud.

“No, it wasn’t because of me,” he said, reclining on the strong plastic “it’s actually about you”

“Me?”

“Yes. It’s not every day that we get someone with your kind of records to go through this. So, as you can see, word spread out and everyone wanted to take a good look at you. They were even betting on what you would become if you got transformed. That’s why I asked Vera to personally escort you here, so they stayed put in their places and didn’t get you even more nervous”

That hit me. I hadn’t thought a lot about what would be of me, but now, for the first time, I felt scared. What happened if I ended up like that?

“That’s also why they sent you to me” he continued reclining in the amazingly strong chair “As to be sure everything goes well and we collect all the data possible. And as a personal favor to a friend’s of mine”

So that’s how the unicorn managed it, but then something struck me.

“What can go wrong?” I asked without intending to have that hint of worry that escaped nonetheless.

“As you may already be warned, Passion is not lethal. The worse that could happen is that you get change and your modifications don’t work properly. Like my wings” he said, standing up and moving them with a lot of effort “with so much metal in my body, is like I’m trying to carry a whole bridge with the wings of a pigeon, utterly useless.

Besides, I’m also afraid of heights”

He then sat down again and waited a little bit more. As I didn’t say anything he spoke “Well, if that’s all…”

“Wait” I semi-shouted “I have…second thoughts”

“I can assure you that the procedure is completely safe and…”

“Is not that” I cut him “I feel like I’m doing something wrong… something bad. That I’ll regret this later”

He looked at me with what I guessed was concern. The next thing I knew was that he was sitting on the chair opposite of me, leveling my chin with his muzzle and looking right at my eyes.

“I know exactly how you feel” he told me with a kind voice “I felt the same when I discovered this thing, but look at me,” I did, slowly but I did “I’m a dragon, something that isn’t even supposed to exist.

“I’m supposed to only dwell in the far corners of people’s minds, terrorizing their souls and feeding their fear of the unknown until, generations later, reason and skepticism tore me down. I’m normally the symbol of death and evil that awaits the arrival of an honorable and brave knight so he can archive immortality through my destruction. I’m the twisted image of the imagination and fantasies, dreams and nightmares alike of several different generations, around all the corners of the world, throughout time. “Maybe the legends really came from the findings of dinosaur bones…” he said, with his reptilian eyes climbing up inside its sockets at either side of its muzzle while his ideas fogged into the sea of deep thoughts for just a moment.

“But that’s not the point,” he said the moment he landed, and returned to meet my gaze “the truth is, I’m nothing like that. I’m neither a God, as I haven’t done any miracles yet; nor a nightmare, as I don’t scare my baby nephew that often; nor a myth, as I’m here talking to you. I’m just a person trying to find his way through life. How people will look at my actions, body or mind, is up to them.

“I cannot guarantee your life will remain the same if you decide to sit on that expensive chair S, but I can promise you that, whatever happens, you’ll always be able to mold your own destiny”

He then smiled, one of the only warm and honest smiles I have ever seen in my life. Strangely enough, it didn’t look quite out of place among his reptilian features, unlike all the other expressions that had come out of him “What say you?”

I thought a moment about this.

“Let’s do it” I finally said with a smile of my own caused by his infectious joy.

But as we got to our feet something suddenly crossed my mind “One more question though”

“Go ahead”

“Why did you name it the Passion Process?”

The scales on his cheeks seemed to turn red underneath before he answered “That’s my last name”

“Oh… I see…”

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A chair had manifested itself in the middle of the room without me ever noticing it. The same chair that the holographic projector had showed, only bigger.

I went to examine it for a while, Michael waiting patiently all the time some distance away. It was a normal chair, no strips, no bands, nothing to pin me down, only a white chair. So I sit up on it, it was amazingly comfortable.

Michael then came by me and put a plain white necklace with some little holes all around it. “For smell” he said, and then proceeded to lowering the screens.

Half way through, the screens stopped and flickered to life.

Pines swayed and moved along as the camera went trough each pathway of the woods at an incredible speed, making the greens blur in beautiful strokes that could have only been painted by nature itself. Then the view changed to a lake so huge that the very shoreline was concealed and the trees seemed to have rooted themselves at the very surface of the water. At the center, as to defying the monstrosity of water around it, was the only piece of land in the sky blue expanse, crooked, deformed, but standing to the impossible height of seven meters, a sentinel keeping an eternal guard among these virgin lands of beauty.

Just as the camera centered on top of the rock formation, it started spinning slowly and in little time I was seeing the whole valley. It was the center of a dormant volcano with a giant lake in the middle. The camera began to travel through the three unbelievingly high peaks that hovered above it all.

“Wow” I said.

“Yeah, I know,” he said “isn’t the moon amazing?”

“Moon, what moon?” I asked. He then looked at the screens and what they were projecting.

“Ops, this was supposed to be lunar scenery. Let me fix that”

“No” I said “I like that one” he then glared at it again.

“As you wish, but I like more the lunar one”. He then put some commands on a panel that had appeared on the chair.

“Ok” he began after the thing had come to life “As soon as the monitors close around you the music will start and the chair will start shaking softly, so you won’t feel much of anything.

“Remember, this is only for you to help relax, so try to go with the flow. Tell me whenever you’re ready”

I took a big breath. This is it I told myself there’s no going back to me now.

“I’m ready”

Just as I finished speaking, he pushed a button and the monitors closed up on me almost instantly, and for a moment I thought they would crash on my face, but they quickly stopped and I could see the last line of artificial light fading between the rubbery materials.

They sealed up so well, and had so good graphics, that I could have sworn I was there, in that shoreline, near the big crystal water with blue bottom. No clouds anywhere in the sky. A hole protected by mountains that no one could climb. Only I, the sounds of the nearby pines and the wind caressing the water could be heard. I felt drowsy all of a sudden. The last thing that caught my mind was the freshness of the day and the caressing of the breeze all around me…

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…but I couldn’t sleep anymore. I had been laying here on my haunches, bathing under the sun, all day long. I had to eat, explore for any intruders, mark my territory and then go to my cozy den on the highest peak to sleep for the night. And since I had overslept, again, I had to do everything before the sun goes down. How annoying, especially with two sore wings for having rolled over them a couple of times.

I got on all fours, and began my stretching exercises. It took me ten whole minutes to cure all the cramps in my body, and ten more for the ones in my feathered wings. But who could blame me for being lazy? It was in my nature after all, I was born this way.

I turned my head towards the direction of the wind, which I felt with the feathers on my face, and began running against it. When I felt that I had gained enough speed I expanded my wings into their full wingspan, causing that I rocketed into the sky with great force. Once in the sky, I took the uprising thermals that came from the hot rock on the ground underneath, and waited until I was far enough in the air that I no longer needed the currents lo lift me. So I directed myself to be on top of the water and began scanning for fishes. Fishes were abundant and tasty in around here. I was so lucky to have found such a nice place to live.

There, that one near the lonely island in the center was huge. I quickly folded my wings and began a free fall. It was a beautiful sensation, to fall freely, letting your body in the hands of gravity, only to snap it back at the right moment and laughing at its face, and that moment…was now. I deployed my wings into the ether of the air and began to glide at the same level as the water that was just inches down of me. I’m almost there… I almost got it… got it, right into my right fore-talon, and I still had enough impulse to go up to where my cave was up in the mountains so I could eat it while guarding my home at the same time. What could be more perfect than that?

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It had been an exhausting day. I must have circled the lake at least ten times. With my stomach full, and my beak tucked between my wings, I began to fall rapidly into the dream’s realm. A good night’s sleep didn’t sound so bad…

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…but it wasn’t night yet. The morning had barely started since I entered IRF. How could I have a good night’s sleep in plain day?

I woke up with a start in the white cozy chair. All screens; necklaces and headphones were gone.

“I was just going to wake you up” Michael said next to me, a set of very sharp instruments disappearing into the ground.

“I fell asleep?” I asked, unbelievingly.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, almost everyone falls asleep,” he said, offering a hand “it’s completely normal”

I began to stand up, and immediately knew why he had offered me his hand. Apparently, I had lost my sense of balance while plugged in.

“Easy now,” he said, holding me firmly and taking me to one of the white chairs “your balance will return in a few moments” he told me after leaving me in a somewhat straight position. He then went to sit behind the white desk.

“In the meanwhile,” he said passing me a transparent card across the desk that I barely caught before it slipped from my shaky hands. It was graved with some dates and hours “that’s a schedule of appointments. I want you to come here on a regular basis in order to monitor all the changes…any questions?”

I didn’t answer. My thoughts too immersed in what had just happened.

“Can I ask you something personal?” he said, the sudden change in his professional mood catching my attention.

“Sure”

He leaned closer to me, as if what he was about to say was a secret “What did you dream?”

My heart sank. Did he know it?

“Of course,” he continued, reclining in his chair once again “I only ask out of personal curiosity. I find interesting what people dream during the process”.

“Actually, I didn’t dream at all” I lied “I just closed my eyes and a moment later I was falling to the ground”

“What a shame,” he said dropping his head a little “they say it’s one of the most fantastic dreams there is”