Midnight. They always came at midnight. The chimes from the old grandfather clock in the den jolted Daniel out of his restless dreams. It wasn't the chimes that woke him so much as the knowledge that They were coming. It was the same horrifying ritual, every single night.
The room was illuminated by an eerie pale green glow. Three figures in haz-mat suits stood around his bed. One of them held a large briefcase, another held a gun, and the third--the apparent leader, from the way he acted--was making entries into a large handheld computer. Daniel tried to escape, to run, to even move, but some unseen force held him in place, as immobile as the bed itself. The leader looked up from his computer and signaled to the one holding the briefcase, who set the case down and began to open it. Daniel strained to see its contents, but couldn't from his position. If only he could move...
The leader reached forward, grabbed the bedcovers and--
The shrill blast of Daniel's alarm clock filled the room. He'd had that dream again, the same one he'd been having every night for nearly a month. Except that it didn't feel like a normal dream. It felt more like a memory, but one that had been partially forgotten. Anyway, Dan had more important things to worry about, so he pushed whatever it was aside for the moment. Today was the last day of school, finally. All he had to do was survive his last few final exams, and he'd be home free. He wasn't about to let a creepy dream get him down.
Dr. DiCaoz glanced over his biology classroom. "Is anybody still working on the final?" he asked tiredly. He paused for a moment, then said, "If everybody is finished, you may talk quietly amongst yourselves for the remainder of the period." As the class erupted in chatter, he went back to nursing his hangover.
Daniel loved his biology class. It wasn't just that he was good at it, or that it was the last class of the day. By some bit of luck or fate, he happened to be in the same class as his four closest friends, Gassan, David, Pammy, and Jake. Gassan, David, and Pammy had become absurdly popular since coming to high school. Gassan was Lebanese and therefore "exotic," David was a star swimmer, and Pammy was a cheerleader. In retrospect, popularity was an inevitability. To the other popular kids, Jake an avid follower of the Furry subculture (he called it a craze, but nobody else did) and Daniel, the introspective writer, were social liabilities. Still, Gassan, David, and Pam never let their newfound "friends" keep them away from Jake and Dan. Privately, Daniel was grateful that he had managed to befriend the four people who appeared to be immune to high school drama.
"So, what'd you guys think?" Pammy whispered.
"I'm pretty sure Dr. Di is a nutcase," Gassan answered quickly. He was met with a chorus of approval from his companions.
"Anyway," Pam continued, "are we having our annual Thank-God-The-Schoolyear's-Over party tonight?"
"I can't go," Jake said, "I've got a convention."
"I can't go either," said David, "My dad's taking me camping. He's on a back-to-nature kick."
"I'm visiting my grandma," Gassan said. Pammy rolled her eyes.
"Alright," she sighed, "when do you guys get back?"
"Sunday, but it'll be late."
"So," Pammy continued, "is Monday night alright with everyone?"
The days passed quickly. By the time Monday arrived, he had gone an entire weekend without his mysterious dreams. He was mostly relieved, but part of him wished the visitors would come back so he could find out what they were up to.
The streets were charged with an eerie calm. A summer storm was coming. As Daniel reached Pam's door, he couldn't help but feel a strange foreboding. Something was decidedly wrong. He rang the bell.
"Come in," called Pammy. Dan opened the door and found friend sitting on the floor in a tidy circle. They were all staring at him, an unsettling hunger in their eyes. "We are playing Truth or Dare," Pammy intoned mechanically. "Please, join us. Truth or Dare?"
"Please choose Dare," Gassan said, in the same unearthly voice.
"The Truth is never any fun," agreed David, still in the same tone. Throughout the exchange, none of the four took their eyes off of Daniel.
"Is everything alright?" he asked. "You all seem...different."
Pammy answered in the same monotone as before: "We are collectively unnerved at a series of recurring dreams we have been having. Perhaps you too are experiencing these visions?"
"Yeah," Dan said, "but I'm not acting that weird about it."
"Perhaps," Pammy said, "All will be made more clear if you answer this simple question: Truth...or Dare?"
Written by Zodiac on 31 May 2008
“It´s been just a dream, just a dream…” Daniel muttered to himself, pacing around his small bedroom. His short hair was damp with sweat, his breathing coming out in small gasps.
“Just a dream…”
The problem was that Daniel didn´t even remember his dream. Only the unsettling presence of them, and that they wanted something from him. During the last few weeks, he had this dream again and again and he never remembered who they were or what they wanted from him.
Only that they wanted it badly.
Running his fingers through his hair, Daniel tried to calm down. It was just a dream, whatever it was about. It probably meant something in dreams theory too, something silly like internalized guilt for not studying hard enough for his tests. It was no big deal.
But he would be really glad if the dreams stopped finally.
Eventually, Daniel went back to bed. No point in loosing whole night worth of sleep over some stupid dream, he thought. He had chemistry test tomorrow, he should sleep a bit before it.
Written by lulu-illussions on 01 January 2018
In the morning at school their is a big flyer saying 'Costume Party Friday.'
After some debate the five friends agree to try the mall for their costumes.
After school they arrive at the mall and split up.
Written by catprog on 16 January 2020
“What is taking them so long?” Daniel tapped his foot outside the entrance to the shop. He was sure the store keeper inside was staring out the window wondering you the weirdo out front was. Daniel could picture the cops coming, his parents picking him up from the slammer. His mother would cry, his father's disappointed face. His friends, his four close friends would laugh their asses off.
“I could go in?” Daniel muttered staring at his wrist. Time didn't bring his late friends any closer to appearing before him, but he could hope, right? “Screw 'em.” Daniel said a flash of bravery. They were supposed to be looking for a costumes together for a party. The school was hosting it, and for once it didn't sound lame.
“I'll go in and get the best costume for myself.” Daniel nodded, that would show them. Turning from his pacing steps. Daniel opened the door, setting off a charming little bell. Daniel looked up and shape at a dangling fairy. The berries in her hands were the little bells that chime. “Cute.” Daniel smiled, charmed by the little figure.
“Isn't see?” A voice came from Daniel's side. “Many costumers don't even notice her.” Daniel turned and saw a young woman. Dressed in frilly clothes that would make his geeky friend droll. Her blonde hair curled, and tumbled around her shoulders. “Can I help you find what you seek?”
“Please,” Daniel ignored the funny why she spoke. It must be a gimmick for the shop, so he should go with it.
“You liked our fairy, would you like to be one?” She asked speaking in a soft and steady tone. That Daniel found to be soothing.
“No,” Daniel couldn't even begin to image the torment he would suffer. Dressing like a fairy to a school party. Shivering Daniel forced the image to the back of his mind. The mere passing thought would fuel his nightmare later.
“Something a little cooler, but different?” Daniel didn't have a real idea in mind. Crossing his arm, Daniel tilted himself left to right in thought.
“Cooler, and prettier.” She tapped her lips with her ring finger. The cuffs of her dress, swinging in front of her as she spoke. “Perhaps even mysterious?” “Mysterious.” Daniel snapped his fingers at her.
“Yeah, I want to be completely different from myself!” Daniel always daydreamed about whisking away to a new place, where he was the hero, the star. No offence to his friends, but they were so colourful and popular. That Daniel wasn't sure they understood him at times.
“Completely different I can do.” Her eyes narrowed at him, and she brought her hand up, with the palm out. Laughing, “But the price can be high.”
“Oh,” Daniel's shoulder slumped. He didn't have much money on him. Not enough to cover something the shop keep thought was pricey.
“It won't cost you any money.” She smiled with a nod, clapping her hands together. “You noticed my fairy after all.”
“Great!” Who knew there would be such a great perk for noticing a cute fairy chime? Daniel did a little dance on the spot to celebrate. Blushing red when the shop keeper joined him.
“What fun, but now we can not dance, you must try on the piece I'm thinking of!” She took Daniel hand into her smaller one, dragging him past the rows of costumes and accessories. Past a beaded curtain covering a doorway. To a back, and in Daniel's mind, secret room.
“What costume is it?” Daniel's palm sweated with excitement, and nerves. Mostly it was nerves. “A dragon? A skunk? A warrior? Or even a hydra?” Daniel rattled off a couple of things that came to the top of his head. They didn't make much sense once said out loud, but who cares! This was a free costume, and even his friends couldn't find a better deal than that?
Written by psto1464 on 17 January 2020
“A sphinx.” She pulled a baggy piece from nowhere. It looked like a hunk of skin dangling from her hands. A hunk of skin covered in feathers. It looked like an animal skin, with the lion paws sagging on the floor with life like fur. The talons of the suit where his hands would be, looked like they glinted with a sharp and very real edge.
“Is that even wearable?” Daniel edge back from her, the costume gave him the chills; he couldn't finger on why. “You'll never want to take it off, and if you do?” She smiled with bright white teeth. “It'll only be because you found an even better one!” Laughing she continued.
“We have little shops everywhere. We're like mini treasure chest waiting for discovery!” She was good at this, selling her shop. Daniel nodded, impressed, he should at least try on the costume...what's the worse that could happen?
“And it's free?” Daniel asked, inching back over to her.
“I won't take a nickle of your money.” She smiled again, pushing the costume into Daniel's arms.
“I should put it on right here?” Looking around for a changing room. The feather part of the costume felt soft and fluffy under his hands, the costume wasn't as nasty as it looked.
“Clothes won't inter with your change.” She shook her head. “It is a girl sphinx, so we'll be fine in the same room.” She covered her mouth behind her arm sleeve while giggle.
“Okay then.” Daniel shrugged and found the hole for him to step into the costume. His feet felt weird. Like he was stepping into wet rubber. “Feels kinda weird.” Daniel muttered pulling it up his legs anyway.
“That's normal.” She waved a hand, dismissing Daniel's concerns. “Might want to work on that a bit.” Daniel offered his two-cents, while shrugging into it. “You won't notice that soon.” She smiled once again. Daniel went to disagree when the costume head came up from behind him slamming down on him, blinding him.
“What's-” Daniel tried to yell. When his mouth was glue shut by some force he could see, or even feel. The costume tightened. He could feel his clothes dissolve over his skin! Daniel failed his arms, scratching at his chest to get the costume off. It was all in vain, Daniel soon felt the weird wet rubber resting on his skin, as the last of his clothes disappeared.
“The next part is a tad painful. Try to bear it.” Her voice, her soft, relaxing voice. Echoed in his head, but was far from enough to stopped the fear making his mind scream. Then came the pain.
“Emf.” Daniel shouted as his veins felt like they ran with lightening instead of blood. The suit pulled his feet into the shape of paws. He could feel the lost of each toe, reshaping and reforming. The same went for his fingers. Dropping to his knees, no dropping onto all fours. Daniel felt his groin tightening and pinch with the costume ever shrinking in that area.
“Being a female will suit you much better.” Her voice echoed in the distance, Daniel souls cried. He couldn't feel his face to cry. His manhood popped with searing pain, and he felt his insides shift to had something more. Something that no man owned. “May your new life bring you happiness.” Her voice chimed off like the tinkle of the fairy chime.
“Your new life will have many choices. Be it darkness or the light. That is all up to you now.” Daniel's mind faded, no longer able to bear with the pain, his only hope his that he would wake up and it all be a dream.
Written by psto1464 on 18 January 2020
“Ugh” Daniel's head pounded. A hard and unrelenting sound, it reminded Daniel of the time Jake tried to learn the drums. There was no rhythm, only noise. His head hurt so bad, trying to open his eyes made a glare of light stab into his eyes.
“Miss, miss, are you okay?” called a faint voice. Daniel opened his eyes again, and saw the shadow of someone leaning over him. Oh, Daniel thought blinking to bring the face into focus; he found help. The craziness in the store, the suit, the pain of transforming must have all been a dream, right?
“Here try sipping this.” The shadow whispered. A cup touched Daniel's mouth. A sweet fruity taste filled his mouth. The light and refreshing drink, took Daniel's headache away.
“That's better.” Daniel sighed. The pain of headache faded and gone, like Jake's old drums. Made the world a better place.
“Good, but can you open your eyes for me?” The voice pinched sounding worried. Daniel opened his eyes, not noticing he had closed them.
“AHH!” Daniel screamed, his once rich voice became a high pitch, and rather girl like scream. Before him was a monster! Daniel rattled his brain for the what it was.
“AHH!” It screamed back. The voice came out of the face of a plain freckled women with brown eyes, and flowing brown hair in a tight pony tail. The head of a woman was normal, and fine. It was the body that made Daniel tremble and fail backwards until he slammed a wall. Her body was that of a lion! Her eagle claws that should have been her hands clutched her chest has she panted. Large brown wings on her back folded in and out in a restless motion.
“Oh my stars, you scared me!” The monster took a deep breath in and out. “It's okay I brought you in from the wilds. You're safe now.”
“Wilds?” Daniel rack his brain, but all he could recall was being scared, and in pain. Daniel raised his hands to his face. Seeing four sharp black talons flex in their place.
“Oh yes, horrible place; not safe for sphinx or beast out there.” Daniel heard her voice roll over him like a dream. Looking down he saw he was resting not butt, but on his haunches. Soft golden colour fur covered his flank, and his paws? Wiggling his toes, he confirmed he did have control over them, and they were his.
“For someone as young, and pretty as you.” She paused and Daniel looked up, letting the reality of the transformation sink into him.
“I'm glad I found you before some hunters did.” She shivered her feathers fluffy outwards when she did. “What were you doing out there?”
“I don't know.” Daniel's voice flowed in a soft alto, he sounded like a beautiful lady, but was he one?
“Do you really think I'm pretty?” Daniel wondered, finding that he could control his new body like he once did his old one. He gentle flared out his own wings to see vibrate shade of navy with a shinny gold edges.
“Your very pretty honey, has no one ever said that to you before?” Daniel shook his head and the women, sphinx shook her head. “Your gold crown of feather and blue wings are a very rare thing my dear.” She spoke in a soft tone, and to Daniel it felt like he was talking to someone a lot older than him. A grandmother, who felt kind and reassuring.
“I was trying to get home.” Daniel's voice wavered, emotions clogged his throat. He could feel tears forming in his eyes.
“But I don't know how too.” Omitting this sent the tears flying.
“There, there now. Annie's got you.” She came over and tucked Daniel under her wing.
“I'll help you get settled here. Your family will come here, every sphinx from even the farthest coast comes here, at least once a year.” Daniel shook his head, knowing she wouldn't understand. He. No she. She the sphinx Daniel. The human male Daniel was no more. Would have to stay here for now.
“What will I do?” Daniel didn't know, wiping her tears off with a claw foot she sunk down on all fours, feeling lost.
“You can focus on the present for starters!” Annie stood up and pulled her along for the ride. “I take it you've never been to Macon before?”
“This is the farthest I've been from home.” Daniel wanted to be truthful to Annie, she was being kind to her after all, but what else could she say? That she was from a whole other world!
“Then let's get you to the crystal.” Annie nodded, pulling her out the large open door. Out into the sun Daniel winced, letting Annie drag her along until her vision cleared. “The crystal helps all new sphinx find the place that's for them.”
Written by psto1464 on 19 January 2020
“It does?” Daniel blinked clearing her sight. Revealing towering stone structures all around her. Daniel looked around slacked jaw, it looked like he stepped back in time! Ancient castle towers were all around him. People, or sphinx she should say were flying through the air. Young, and old were walking around shopping with leather bags over their sides.
“Don't gap dear, you'll look silly.” Annie reprimanded her with a small clucking sound of her tongue. Daniel shut her mouth with a click of her teeth. Staring with darting eyes instead. It looked like a medieval festival in the square Annie was dragging her through.
“Is there a festival today?” Daniel watched a white and brown sphinx haggle a price down at a wooden fruit stand. Other similar events were happening all around. In wooden stands, on display rugs, some were even in stilts in the air!
“It's always like this.” Annie turned back with a smile. “You get used to it.” Daniel hit Annie's flank with a sudden stop. “We're here!”
“Where?” Daniel's journey stopped tugged to stand in front of a fountain. Water surrounded the great white stone of a beautiful woman, sphinx. Sitting in her claws she held a large round blue crystal, she looked like she held it down to anyone walking by.
“Indra, the first sphinx. She helps guide people to their path in life.” Annie sat down beside the statue and waved her talons around as she spoke. Daniel noticed a few others stopping what they were doing to listen to her. “I came here many, many moons ago, and became a Guide of the city.”
“Guide of the city?” Daniel asked, tilting her head. “You guide sphinx's around here?”
“Half correct.” Annie smiled. “I guide them to her.” Annie waved upwards to the fountain beside her.
“What does she do?” Daniel looked up into the blank staring eyes of the white stone. Feeling a heavy weight come off it, she turned her head away.
“It's not good to look her n the eyes.” An older grey sphinx whispered at her side. “ She'll think your challenging her.”
“Oh,” Daniel paled. Unsure where to look, she stared into the crystal inside, but that made her feel uncomfortable too.
“Feeling a heavy weight...?” Annie laughed “I never got your name.”
“Daniel.” Daniel rushed it out, “Yes it feels weird, can we make it stop now?” Daniel had enough weirdness for one day thank you. The elder at her side laughed.
“I, too, felt the same way here, get on with it Annie.” She laughed in a soft cackle that only nice, but old witched could make. Making Daniel feel even more unease about the crystal and what she was doing there.
“Fine.” Annie sighed. “Sphinx's get more impatient each year, I swear.” Clearing her throat she sat up straight, reminding Daniel of an old teacher of hers. Sitting a little straighter herself, she didn't want to miss a thing.
“Put your talon's on the crystal.” Annie said with a regal nod. Daniel did so fast, before she could change her mind. A jolt sparked through her talons and into her body. She could feel a flow, like blood in her veins that connected her to the now glowing crystal.
“Yes,” Annie raised one talon in the air. “It's suppose to glow. Now star into the crystal.” Daniel stayed silent, staring into the depths. “Three options can selected.” Daniel nodded, feeling herself stretch into three direction. An instinct, a feeling in her heart told her. She would have to choose or let the crystal pull her apart.
Despite that feeling, she felt calm, the crystal carried a warmth of reassurance. Calming any fears that would have otherwise overwhelmed Daniel. It's amazing to have such a feeling of confidence! Daniel wished she had that before entering the jungle, then she might not have even come to this place!
“Once you choose, you can't change your mind. Choose with care.” Annie's voice got stern with a growl in it. “After I finish my explanations!” Daniel nodded. Choosing to remain silent seemed like the right decision.
“One. Schooling.” Annie's voice turned soothing. Rolling off her tongue like a children's story at bedtime. “You'll go and learn about magic, riddles or about teaching others. Depending on your talents.” Daniel perked up at the thought of using magic. Who didn't want to go around wielding power they summoned from the air? Teaching other's like Annie seemed out of reach, she was only a sphinx for about a day after all.
“Two. Work.” Annie waved her talons around the square. “ Shop keepers, adventures, or even hunters are all included here.” Daniel smiled with the cheers of some close by shop keepers. She didn't like the sound of keeping a shop, what would she sell? Adventuring sounded fun, like a video game, but she wasn't sure she had the heart for it.
“Three. A wild chance, other, a roll of fate.” Annie raised her talon's up in a sign of silence. “Helpers, brides or whim of fate can happen here. It is all up to Indra. Males are rare for Sphinx, one's looking to marry often look to this for a mate.” Annie shook a talon at her. “This had never happened once in my time here! Mostly, you end up in one of the first two choices.”
“May darkness strike those who falter” Annie shouted. “Now choose!” Flaring out her wings. Signalling Daniels start of a new life! With no interest in work. Daniel still had two very appealing options before her.
Written by psto1464 on 20 January 2020
“I choose one!” Daniel shouted, raising her talons up in the air like a pony prancing. She couldn't help it. Despite the strangeness of the day, no, because of the strangeness of the day! Daniel's mind danced at the idea of using magic, she could almost see herself now. Waving her talon to summon storms. Created fireballs the size of her head. There were no limits to what she could do.
“Congratulates on choosing to go to school.” Annie nodded her head. “Indra has blessed you for a free education.” Daniel blinked, pay, if the goddess hadn't blessed her? She would have had to pay! Daniel sweated on the idea, thank Indra she didn't. Keeping the ideas of scams of her lips. Daniel leaned in paying careful attention to what was being said next.
“Riddles. A trick of the word. Hints without hints.” Annie smiled, making her plain face glow from plain to pretty. “Magic. A powerful tool in the right talons. Both are the pinnacle of sphinx talents.” Daniel flexed her talon scrapping them along the courtyard tiles. Come on, she urged. “Teaching isn't for you. I'm afraid.” Of course not! Daniel shouted inside, she had only been a sphinx for less than a day! What could she teach others?
“Which is it?” Daniel asked unable to take the drawn out conclusion anymore. “Which is off the table?”
Written by psto1464 on 26 January 2020
“Magic” Annie answered clapping her talons together.
“I'm going to learn magic!” Daniel talon pumped. Inside her mind was crying magic, magic. Daniel basked in the absolute dream of all fantasy lovers. The ability to use magic yourself!
“No, you're learning riddle making.” Annie shook her head. Killing Daniel's mental parade.
“But you said magic!” Daniel cried, she said it, Daniel may not know where her ears were in her new body, but they could hear!
“You ask what was off the table, and I answered.” Annie smiled and came over giving Daniel a big hug that used both her talon arms and wings.
“Riddlers are a noble profession, and with your looks option three may come on its own.” Annie pulled back with a wink. Daniel couldn't say a word. His dreams of magic had come so close that she could feel the heat of the fire ball forming in her talons. Instead, she was going to learn how to rhyme in a confusion manner?
“There has to be a mistake.” Daniel said, they had to be, there must be!
“No mistakes. Anat will be here to pick you up shortly.” Annie smiled and the feathers around her face ruffled. “It's been so long since I brought a riddler from the fountain.” People started to come around. Everyone from the shops started to come around.
Written by psto1464 on 27 January 2020
“Why not?” Daniel shrugged her shoulders. What was the worse that could happen? Daniel got through the crowds with ease. “Is this her magic?” Daniel whispered, seeing how no one notice her passing by them. “This is going to be awesome.” Daniel smiled and ran to catch up with the mysterious white sphinx. Her journey with magic was about to begin!
Written by psto1464 on 31 January 2020
The end (for now)