User:Jetfire/Film at 2011

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Aftermath of New Years, and some pondering on the change.

Film at 2011

Author: Jetfire

January, 2006

For the first week or so after New Years, things were hopping. In the end, our little stunt brought another bunch of Furre'd out of the woodwork, and all without collapsing the region into chaos. AT and I were kept busy guiding the newbies around what resources we had and just talking to them and reassuring them that things were going to be fine.

And then Winter returned in full force. A storm rolling up the coast collided over the province with another rolling in from the Great Lakes. From midnight until mid afternoon, we received a couple of feet of light fluffy snow, effectively shutting down the province. Word came in that the Transit buses were being pulled off the roads, and the managers sent us home early. It was the best birthday present I could hope for.

All through the evening, the darkness was split by the flickering lights of snow plows. By morning, the sun was out, the winds were down, and the roads were clear enough for the buses to run. Which meant it was time to head back to work.

As usual, I made my way through the park. For most of the route, I was trailblazing, my hooves pushing through the new snow and crunching into old snow. It wasn't the easiest trip down I'd done; more than once I had to make a few quick jumps where even my own footing began to slip on buried icy patches. But it was one of the most exhilarating trips I'd made since I changed. I left the park, crossed the road and my company's parking lot, and settled in for my day's work.

For lunch, I headed out to the park like I usually did, book and food in hoof. By then, the parking lot had been plowed, and I noticed a van with the UNB markings on the side, but thought nothing of it. I brushed the snow off the picnic table, and relaxed through my lunch hour.

The sun was setting as I left the office for the day. I entered the park and started towards the trail through the woods, hooking a head lamp over my horns to light my way. I noticed the path seemed more tramped down than usual and there was a strong chemical scent in the air I couldn't place. I slowed my pace and sniffed the air cautiously, following the scent to the edge of the woods. .

There was a large disruption in the snow there. I flashed the light around and followed boot prints. It looked like something had been dug out of the snow in the middle of the greatest disturbance, and the source of the chemical scent. I noticed another trail of prints nearby and began to follow it. It didn't take me long to realize that the trail I was following was carefully walking next to another set of tracks. Tracks made by hooves instead of boots. To be exact, tracks made by MY hooves.

A shiver unrelated to the temperature ran down my spine. The dug out area and the chemical smells had to have been where they had taken a casting of my hoof print. It was probably nothing, but I suddenly didn't want to be leaving any more marks than I had to in that park. I backtracked quickly, dragging my legs in the snow to mask the trail I left, and moved to a well traveled path that lead past the pond and playground to the street. I took the sidewalks the rest of the way home.

Over the next few days, I stayed out of the park as much as possible. It meant more people saw me, but at least my hoof marks were lost in all the other boot prints. But even with my concerns, I had to go to the park to eat lunch. Nine hours in the sauna that was my building was simply too much.

I wasn't entirely surprised when I trotted into the park for lunch a few days later, and found both the UNB van and a CTV News van parked in the parking lot. A reporter was holding a microphone and talking on camera to a professor-type at the Gazebo/information kiosk. Near the vans, a group of skiers I knew in passing, were in the process of putting on their gear for their lunch hour ski, and were watching the interview.

I tried not to look nervous and approached the skiers, scuffing my hooves on the ground to not leave clear tracks. "What's going on up there?" I asked once I was in whisper range, nodding towards the reporter.

"Hey Joe. Park's hopping today. Some students found some weird animal tracks in the woods here, and brought their professor in. He seems to be making a big deal about it," one responded.

We watched the professor hold up a casting that looked very similar to my own hoof and began to point to parts on it. "A big deal? What's so special about it? Looks like a deer hoof or something."

"That's what I said too, but I guess it isn't. Wrong shape or something. Guy says it's more like a goat, maybe even a mountain goat since its so big."

"A mountain goat?" I chuckled nervously. "Bit out of their range isn't it? They're from the west right?"

"I have no idea. Maybe the western animals are coming to the east coast, since so many east coast humans are going out there? Anyways he's making a big deal about it; thinks it got chased into the city during the storm or something and he wants people to watch for it so they can catch it before it gets hurt."

"Big deal over nothing probably. So why the reporters?"

"Gotta be a slow news day. That, or that professor had some contacts and decided to use them to spread the word for people to look for goats in the city."

I chuckled. "Well good luck to him, You guys know how often I walk through the park, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of any goats," I added, pulling an apple out of my lunch bag and crunching into it.

The skiers finished snapping into the skies and waved. "Yeah, we haven't seen it either. It probably really is just a deer and the guy's mixed up."

I waved back and turned to watch the interview, flicking my ears forward to try and listen in to what they were saying. There was too much ambient noise for me to make it out. What I could hear was a third person in the news van doing whatever they do there. I heard the figure step onto the icy gravel of the parking lot, but ignored them, taking a few steps closer to listen to the questions.

"You sounded like you spend a lot of time in the park here. Would you like to say a few words on TV?" a female voice asked me from behind.

I swallowed a chunk of apple and shook my head. "Nah, I'm no good on TV. And I doubt I'd have anything useful to say." The wind was blowing sideways, hiding the interview conversation even more.

The voice lowered to a conspiratorial tone. "Oh come on, Joseph. You weren't shy about appearing on TV on New Years with the rest of the Furred."

I sputtered and swung around to find myself face to face with a raccoon. She smirked and held out a free paw to me. "Hey there, I'm Shiloh, a journalism student from Carleton doing some apprentice work down here.."

I dropped the apple core and shook her paw. "Joseph... well you knew that I guess."

She grinned wider. "That I did. Though I didn't expect to meet you here today. Look, do you want to get another 15 seconds of fame or not? We need to get it filmed now so we can get it edited for Halifax before five."

I looked at the clipboard she held out to me. "I dunno, They do want us to try and keep a fairly low profile, to 'protect the stability of the Field' and stuff. Showing up on TV again so soon after 'The Halifax debacle' won't make me many friends," I explained, finger quoting in the air. The camera man shot us a dirty look and we back away closer to the vans and out of range of the microphones.

"Bah! Not everyone believes in the need to protect the field like that. If it was really that fragile, then it would have broken down long ago. Besides, just imagine the kick the Changed will get when this hits YouTube; going from a professor looking for a wild goat in the city, to an unintended interview with the goat that made the tracks."

I thought it over and chuckled at the thought. "Ok lets do it. I usually eat lunch over there. Think that would make a good filming spot?"

She looked over to the table and pondered a bit. "That should be fine. I just need you to sign this waiver so we can use your appearance and get your name up in lights and stuff, and we'll be all set. Sounds good?"

I walked over to the table, stepping into the boot marks of other people along the way, and sat down on top of the table to wait. Shiloh brought over the paperwork, following the boot prints to hide her own paw prints. I printed my name carefully for the post editing electronic name tag, and scrawled my signature on the forms she offered.

She sat down next to me and we watched the interview continue. "Sorry to pop myself on you like that. I just moved down here and I haven't had time to get to know you guys yet. I did want to speak to you though. Would you be interested in an interview later? An interview about your life with the Change? It's a long term project I'm working on for school," she said, looking over at me.

"A school project? Is it official?"

She grinned back. "Surprisingly yes. One of my prof's is Changed too, and he thinks its a wonderful idea. He thinks it's important for us early changers to get our stories on record somewhere for the Future."

"OK, that makes sense. You'll let me know if you do decide to release it publicly right?"

"Of course. I can't really release it while the Field's in effect anyway. Maybe in a few years, there'll be enough of us I can put excerpts out, but nothing public before then... It looks like they're just about done over there. How about we get together this weekend somewhere?"

I watched the interview wrap up. The cameraman changed his batteries and tapes while the reporter and professor talked. "That sounds fine. How about we set up down here? I know of some isolated tables and benches where we can speak privately."

"Sounds like a plan. Excuse me, I need to keep the professor busy so he doesn't interrupt you." Shiloh got up and spoke quietly with the reporter for a moment, before moving on to the professor. He looked over our way and I waved at him. He seemed confused a moment, looking from me to his casting and back, but was deftly interrupted by Shiloh.

The reporter was friendly enough, one of the junior reporters whom I vaguely recognized from the network. We shook hands, she made sure she had my name right, and started positioning me to get a good shot for filming. I didn't know if it was normal or not, but the cameraman seemed to spend an extra long amount of time getting the camera focused.

The interview itself passed in a bit of a blur. The reporter asked me how often I visited the park, if I'd noticed any creatures or strange tracks in the park, did I suspect that there might be a wild goat loose in the park and similar questions. I answered them as best I could without incriminating myself. It was tricky, since she often re-asked questions in different ways to try and get a better sound bite. After about ten minutes, she called it a wrap and thanked me for the help. I knew I'd be lucky if I even showed up for a comment in the final report, but I had to admit, it was lots of fun.

Shiloh and I exchanged contact information and set a time to meet up while the vans were repacked. Soon enough, the vans were gone, and the park went back to normal. I finished the rest of my lunch, thinking about what I would say at Shiloh's interview.

The professor interview was a hit. As I expected, the ten minutes on camera were boiled down to a fifteen second clip of me saying I had never seen any creatures like that, but I would keep my eyes open for it. It was enough to draw attention from those who knew me. Mom chewed me out for not telling her I'd be on TV, Liz called and said next time I should have a red hat and suit on, and AT wanted to know if I wanted help hunting the Greater Frederictonian Mutant Mountain Goat.

As planned, I met Shiloh in the parking lot the following weekend. She brought with her a couple of cases of equipment. I hefted the heavier one of them, and lead her into the park, turning down a side trail that wasn't maintained in the winter. The cases proved to be handy for smoothing our tracks in the snow. Finally, we reached the bench I had in mind, well out of sight and earshot of the main trails, and we set up her gear.

"OK we're all set now. You ready Joe?"

I rubbed my horns a bit and ran my fingers through my beard. "I think so, how do I look?"

She reached over and flicked some longer fur away from my ears. "You look fine."

The coon stepped back out of view of the camera on the tripod, and waited as I perched myself comfortably on the back of the snowy bench. She adjusted the focus one last time and held up a finger for silence. The light came on and she started.

"It is January 28, 2006. I am in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, talking with Joseph Ford, a mountain goat changed. He changed in the 2005 wave. This is his story."

With occasional prompting from her, I told my story to her camera, outlining the glimpses ahead of time, the change itself, and some of the events since then.

I finished up and she changed batteries and tapes and set us up to go again. This part, she explained, would be more interview based.

Speaking off camera, she started the questions.

"What would you say you like best about being changed?"

"What do I like best? I'm not sure. Probably the fortune I'd be saving on heating bills for one thing, if it wasn't included in my rent to begin with." I laughed and hoped it didn't sound too nervous. "Seriously though? It's hard to say. Walking out in the middle of a Maritime winter in short sleeves is great I guess. And I'd be lying if I didn't say being part of something that no one else sees, no one else CAN see, is a bit of a thrill and exciting."

She waited a second to see if I wanted to add more, then moved on to the next question. "What would you say you like least about being changed?"

"I'll probably have a different story come spring, but lately? I'd say it is the heat. The heat inside that is. The same thing that lets me wear short sleeves in the middle of winter, also makes room temperature too damn hot for me. My apartment manager's already sent me numerous reminders to turn the heat on in my place to keep the pipes from freezing."

I thought a bit more and got more serious. "Actually, now that I think of it, what I really hate about this? Is all the lying we have to do. The RDF, it protects us, but its not perfect, and its flaws keep building up and have to be explained away constantly, while not showing our true nature. We constantly have to be on guard, watching what we say, how we act, what we leave behind. It's a strain that never really goes away.

"I live alone so I think I've got it a bit easier. It gives me a few hours every day where I can be myself and not worry about who sees what I do. I can't imagine what it is like for those of us with families. Still, no matter what, those little things keep adding up. Explaining why you can't eat the turkey dinner, or why the headboard is all scratched up, or why your apartment stinks of an animal when you don't have any pets; all those little things just become a constant drain."

She nodded and moved on to a lighter topic. "All of the Changed have their own theories about what is causing this. What is your theory?"

"It is a common thread. I've read most of the theories, and I guess my own favorites are the Alien Space Bat theory, or the Act of ROB theory."

"Alien Space Bats?"

"It's a term I came across on newsgroups ages and ages ago, when discussing a situation in a Sci-Fi series. It's basically your standard 'Aliens Did it' theory."

"And Act of ROB?"

"Act of a Random Omnipotent Being. R. O. B. or ROB. Similar to Act of God, but slightly different since it doesn't imply that it's God who's doing it, just some other being out there. It's a term we use a lot on some of the theoretical debate boards I frequent. You know the type, where you debate who wins between Star Trek or Star Wars, Captain America or Batman, that sort of thing."

"About the Change itself. Do you think it will stop? Keep going? Or what?"

"Honestly? I have no idea. Half a year ago, I didn't know a thing about it. While I myself am having fun with it, I've heard about the troubles others have, some of the nightmares out there too. For their sake, I'm hoping it will start reversing itself, that this will just be a historical curiosity that future historians will think was just a myth, like Circe and the Egyptian gods and stuff."

We continued talking, shifting from interviews to just a simple discussion between two changed people. She changed tapes and batteries again, and recorded us talking, sharing anecdotes and stories about close calls, annoyances and other Change related incidents we had had. Finally, as the shadows grew long in the forest, we wrapped it up.

She stood and walked back to the camera from where we had both sat in its view, talking. "Before I wrap this up, assuming the Change goes as expected this August, is there anyone, or any groups you might want to see changed?"

I had to laugh. "I never really thought about it. I suppose if we could get a politician or two changed... some of the good ones with open minds that is, it would be a huge help. Some media types would be good too. I know some don't like us being public, but imagine what would happen up here if say Lloyd Robertson or Peter Mansbridge changed... or the reaction in the States if one of the late night hosts like Jay or David changed.

"Locally, I almost hope a coworker or someone in my family, or one of my old friends Changes. I've met so many people I would never have otherwise met with this stuff, but it would be nice to have someone who knew me before to talk to and stuff." I shrugged a little. "Plus, one of my high school class mates, turns out she married a Changed before he changed. Things are going well, but I'm worried that the strain of the Change may tear them apart eventually. It would be great if she changed in the next wave."

Shiloh nodded to me and turned off the camera. "Thanks Joe. I'm glad to have your thoughts."

I started helping her pack up the equipment. "Glad to share them with you. It really helped me clear my mind on a lot of things I wasn't even thinking of."

"Yeah, it's a common theme I'm finding among the Changed I've interviewed. The interviews are a bit of a cleansing for them."

We walked back out of the park, masking our tracks again, and loaded up her car. We headed out to a local place for dinner, then said our farewells. It was a good day, and a great interview.

Preceded by:
Poking the Veil
The Veil (A Paradise Series)
(First: Holes in the Veil)
Succeeded by:
Twisting the Veil