Feathers, talons and a beak. Must be a birdy tail of some description...

For The Grandkids

By Wolphin.

I had always wanted to be in on some history making.  I loved the 
idea of sitting back in my chair and saying to my grandkids, "I 
was there."  So when the professor asked if I could help with 
their latest experiment I leapt at the chance.

If I had realised it would mean four months of crawling around 
claustrophobic spaces running and checking cables I probably would 
have said no.  I looked around the large cavern.  It had taken 
them six years to get this far.  Four years of fighting for a 
budget, eighteen months of digging and six months to put it all 

I had it explained to me exactly what would happen.  It was 
apparently a simple idea.  You get an atom, stop it moving by 
freezing it to absolute zero then bombard it with various things 
and take lots of readings.  Of course, all of this took miles of 
cables, acres of computers and a huge number of very small crawl 
spaces which was why I looked pretty terrible in a very dirty pair 
of overalls.

"Testing commencing in T minus 30 seconds" announced a voice from 
a hidden speaker. 

I looked up at the control booth, I have been assured it was safe 
down here.  I was about as close to ground zero as you could get.  
The actual chamber was about thirty metres behind me at the end of 
a long steel tube they were going to use to suck the heat out 
with.  One of the men in the white coats looked down and gave me 
thumbs up.  I grinned back.  I had asked to be this close on 
purpose, but I still had a feeling I was being a guinea pig.

"In ten... nine..."  the count began with a monotonous voice.  

I braced myself to it.  Here it comes..

"Two... one... zero"

I braced myself, there was a change in pitch of the ever present 
background hum, the air temperature seemed to drop a few degrees, 
but nothing else happened.

I turned to look at the control tower, that was when I heard it.  
An ominous grinding noise.  Slowly I pivoted around on my heel.  
The metal sheeting in front of me seemed to buckle and writhe 
before my eyes.  Then there was a sudden flash which blinded me 
for an instant.  As I blinked to clear the spots the smooth metal 
began to look rough, almost textured.

I found myself stepping closer as a split appeared in the end of 
the tube.  Then, in a matter of milliseconds the steel tube seemed 
to push out towards me.  For a moment I thought it was going to 
blow itself apart, but it was a deliberate shape, rounded, but 
with two symmetrical bumps near the top and another pair in the 
middle.  Realisation dawned as I found myself looking at the head 
of a huge snakes head. 

What had been the end of the pipe split into two halves, a pair of 
wicked looking fangs materialising at it glared down at me.  There 
was a loud hiss and the mechanical thing began to close in on me.  
I gave a tortured moan and shrunk to the floor, arms across my 
face, expecting the worst.

After what seemed like an eternity I opened my eyes slowly and 
looked through my arms.  I could see two slivers of light.  Next I 
heard running feet, followed by muffled voices.  A few seconds 
later a very human pair of hands were pulling me out.  I peered 
around curiously, my mind trying to take in what had happened.  
Before me, from where I had just been pulled an ornately made 
steel snake curved down across the room.  

Looking around I noticed a few other small changes.  Tree roots 
and vines now ran across some of the cabling racks.  A turtle 
crawled out from the hard hat storage racks and one computer 
seemed to be made up of chocolate.

"Wha...?" I managed to murmur before my brain decided it had seen 
enough and I tumbled off to oblivion.

I am not sure how long it was until I woke.  My eyes flickered 
open and I stared at a white ceiling.  I recognised it, it was 
mine.  I sat up suddenly and looked around.

"Ahhh, you're awake," said a familiar voice.

I turned to face the grey haired man.

"Did I just..." I managed to get out before he nodded.

"See a pipe turn into a snake, computers turn into trees and god 
knows what other things?" he asked.  "Yes, you did."

"Wha...?" I murmured standing up, stretching some aching muscles.

"What happened?" pre-empted the professor.  "Well, we're not sure 
to begin with, but we've got some ideas."

"Go on," I nodded, moving over to the kitchen.  I was starving.

"Well," he began.  "We think it has to do with the physical laws 
of the universe. One of them is that matter can not occupy the 
same space and time.  Normally this isn't a problem.  Even when 
something looks still, its has atoms which are moving all over the 
place.  Then they have protons, neutrons and electrons which are 
moving around all by themselves.  This means that at any instance 
the mass of an object is never in the same place as any other 

I just nodded as I empties the remainder of the orange juice.

"Well," he continued.  "Our project involved freezing an atom, 
that would stop its movement hence it would occupy the same space 
as it did previously.  To be honest, we never thought about it, 
but something didn't like it.  We think that the flash you saw was 
a tiny rip in the fabric of the universe spreading out.  Strangely 
this rip did not progress past any solid objects and did not 
affect everything, but some things were affected."

I looked up.

"Affected?" I questioned.

"Changed would probably be a better word," explained the 
professor.  "It would seem as if anything exposed to the flash had 
an opportunity to change its shape.  Hence the tree roots and 
vines.  Even the conversion of the pipe into the snake."

I shuddered at the memory.

"Then why did the pipe revert back to steel?" I asked.

"Well, it probably never changed from steel in the first place," 
he said.  "The momentary burst of energy was probably enough to 
charge it, change it, but not enough to maintain it.  After all, 
steel in this universe is rigid and inanimate, but maybe in some 
other universe its the basis of life, hence the movement.  It 
would seem an object that changed to something similar in shape, 
hence the cables into trees and vines and the pipe into the snake.  
We're not why things changed into what they did or why they 
didn't, but we're looking into it."

I finished making a sandwich and moved back into the lounge.

"The what about me?" probed, almost dreading the response.

"Well, from what we can tell, you're normal," he said with a 
smile.  "We took some blood and ran some tests while you were out 
and you're perfectly healthy.  Fully normal.  It would seem the 
beam didn't affect you, like it didn't affect everything in the 

I sighed a sigh of relief and munched on my sandwich.

"Anyway," said the professor.  "I must be going, we've got a huge 
amount of data to go over.  I just wanted to check you were ok and 
wanted to answer any questions.  And please, don't say anything to 
this.  The military have stepped in and everything is now 
classified.  Take some time off, I'll see you when you decide to 
come in again."

I nodded absent mindedly as he left.  It sounded like a close 
call, but it would appear I was unaffected.  Even though he had 
told me that I had to check.  I finished my sandwich and moved to 
the bedroom, stripping down naked as I looked in the mirror.

I posed a few times, looking over my body.  No, everything seemed 
to be ok, but suddenly I seemed tired.  I looked over at the bed 
and a few seconds later I was back in oblivion.

I awoke a few hours later, rolling over as I climbed out, noticing 
the sun was low on the horizon.  I went to turn towards the door, 
but gave a strangled cry and fell onto the bed as my knee sent a 
slice of pain through my body.  

Puzzled I flipped myself over and looked down at my feet before 
giving a gasp of surprise.  My normal human feet had gone.  In 
their place were these strange scaled things, even as I looked 
they grew longer, what little remained of my nails stretching into 
talons.  I watched as the scales began moving up my calf.  

I was turning into a snake just like the pipe!

Then, the scales seemed to stop moving.  My feet continued to 
tingle for a few moments then they were still.  Tentatively I 
reached down to stroke one, it was warm and smooth, but more off 
putting was I could feel my hand moving along it.  I ran my hand 
across my sole and almost instinctively my clawed foot grasped at 
it.  This was not right, snakes did not have feet...

Experimentally I stood, taking a few steps.  Each foot seemed 
natural enough, walking was no problem.  Then I looked up in the 
mirror and gave a gasp of surprise, my entire head had somehow 
split itself.  My eyes had moved.  Instead of being above my nose 
they were wider apart and my nose was somehow larger.  I found 
myself closing one eye, then the other.  My field of vision had 
definitely improved, in fact my over all vision had improved as 
well, but these changes somehow seemed natural.

I moved into the mirror to study my face.  As I did no I noticed 
my teeth bulging out strangely.  Even as I opened my mouth to 
inspect them they pushed out further, quickly emerging into the 
open as my nose grew as well.  I tapped lightly at the new 
protuberance, it was hard and clicked slightly.  but it wasn't 
until I opened it a few times that I recognised it as a beak.  

Realisation began to dawn slowly. Scaled feet, beak, changed 
eyes...  I began to feel pin pricks all over my body and guessed 
what was happening.  It is not a feeling I care to remember.  
Imagine pulling a hair out of your arm, then imagine doing that to 
every hair on your body except that the hair goes on and on, gets 
thicker and gradually turns into a feather.  Luckily it did not 
last long and after a matter of minutes my trembling body 
gradually stilled again.

Once I had got control of my senses I looked at my reflection in 
the mirror.  I was not recognisable.  I stood on two scaly legs, 
covered in quite elegant mottled brown plumage with light breast 
feathers and on orange neck, while a sharpened beak clicked 
approvingly at the image it saw, my newly formed crest raising 
automatically.  My arms and hands remained, although longer 
feathers cascaded off my shoulders and short talons emerged from 
scaly palms, however I had a feeling something was missing, it 
just was not right.

Somehow I found myself leaning forward as my spine lengthened 
slowly, my legs shortening to compensate as long tail feathers 
slid out one by one, that was when an almost complete a pair of 
wings burst forth from my shoulders with no warning.  They grew 
and strengthened as I bent into my new stance, spreading their 
tawny feathers for balance.

Somehow this room seemed to small and cramped now so I moved out 
to the balcony to stretch my wings.  Stepping off the edge seemed 
like a natural progression.

Since then I have not looked back.  As the world's only morphic 
eagle I am in demand by a lot of people.  The government wants me 
in a zoo, various research organisations want me in lots of little 
jars but best of all a whole pile of companies want me to work for 

The ease I have at working in difficult locations.  As long as its 
high then I have no problem with it.  Currently I am checking the 
power transmission lines across the country.  Just me and miles a 
sky.  Its a tough job, but someone has to do it.  Plus now I've 
got something to tell the grandkids...