The Chronicles of Rogue
Disclaimer:I own the character Rogue, as well as the plot of this story. Both are copyright to me.
I sighed as I stepped among the discarded burgundy carapaces that once were known as leaves, now being thrust from their home in a daring waltz with one another due to the coming winter and its frost. My paw pads made delightful crunching sounds on them, though, and the smell of crushed leaves and autumn wafted towards my sensitive nostrils as I continued along the sidewalk.
I listened closely to the world around me... I could hear children in school finally being let out for recess. I heard the slightest of breezes, whispering in my ear as if it were telling me a secret only the best of friends shared. I heard a tired mother scolding her child for trying to go outside and play when they were ill.
Unbidden, a memory flashed inside of my mind as I walked. I saw myself as a human, seven years ago, lying in bed with a fever of one oh five point six Fahrenheit. I had been sick like that for two months, in fact, and at least a quarter of the world soon followed. It was a serious pandemic that had swept across the world, apparently originating with me. Doctors didn't know what had caused it, and it seemed that the other three-quarters of the world's population were immune to whatever vile pathogen that caused it. It struck down people from all racial groups and ages. The elderly and young usually died after a day of infection. Animals were unaffected. The doctors had called it a miracle that I was still alive after two weeks of fighting, and the miracle was ever-mounting the longer I survived.
After what seemed an interminable amount of time after it struck - two months, exactly - people started to change. I apparently was the first to have contracted the disease in this part of the world, and the change happened immediately.
I watched the little boy - myself - in the memory start to convulse and cry out. He was in pain, a terrible pain that made him feel as if he were being ripped apart and rearranged on the inside. His bones disintegrated and reformed, his muscles liquefying and solidifying as stronger, more resilient cords of tissue. His organs stayed the same though, other than the cartilage in his ears moved upwards significantly and took on a feline appearance. His heels moved up his legs, his kneecaps following as well until he had distinctly one-third femur, one-third tibia fibula, and one third metatarsals. His toes and the ball of his foot turned into paws, the nails vanishing into a slit in his skin. His facial bones shattered and were reconstructed into the form of a muzzle, his teeth lengthening as his nose turned flatter and black. His genitals shrank slightly into his body, the phallus slipping into a sheath, his fingernails also disappearing into a slit in each of his fingers. He arched his back in a caterwaul of pain as the skin on the small of his back erupted into a tail, muscles weaving up the bones, the skin growing to accommodate the new appendage. His palms and paws got black paw-pads, and that was when the fur began.
All throughout this, the boy yelled and convulsed, screamed and wailed as the pain lanced up and down his body, wracking him with sensations that would cause a grown man to faint. Soon, fur started growing all over his body except for where his paw pads and nose were. He had a mixture of a bright, fluffy yellow fur going from his jaw line around his head to where his ears used to be. It then went down his neck and broadened once more to encircle the entirety of his pectorals, slimming down a little while encasing his abs and slimming even further as it went over his crotch and between his legs. The inside of his ears was also that yellow, as was the tip of his tail. The rest of his body was swamped with a flourish of a fluffy mauve that proceeded to darken as time went on, being a mix of red, purple, and black. His body was then that of an anthropomorphic feline, and that was when hell began.
All across the world, people started changing into animals with human-esque body structure. They had all of the abilities that they had before the sickness, only now they were enhanced as well as they had a few choice extras that were particular to the species they turned into. No one turned into anything other than a terrestrial mammal, though, and science asked why. They did tests, probably even killing some if not all they tested on in the process.
While the science community was fixated on their studying, the rest of the human populace became jealous. All Olympic world records would be broken due to the enhanced abilities of furries. Quite quickly, segregation laws popped up everywhere. Furries could not participate in any sort of athletic event unless they were on their own team composed of furries going against a team composed of furries, with their coaches also required to be furries. The world had taken a huge step backwards. Furries could not run for any form of governmental office, and were either killed or ousted if they refused to step down from a position they had when they changed.
The disease that had changed us into what we were split families apart, placed nations against themselves, it appeared to be a global crisis that stretched to the farthest corners of the world and beyond. No one knew why, and no one knew how. Everyone knew, however, that the world had changed. Everyone...
The last bits of the memory were flowing from my mind... I saw my parents throwing out a young, underage cat-child into the streets with rage in their eyes and tears on their faces. They weren't tears of sorrow... They were tears of hatred. Who was this cat-child that had stolen their son away from them? Why should they care what happened to him, when he had all the skills to survive on his own in life, but wanted to be with the parents that he loved...?
My memories changed once more to a cold street, one month later, with rain cascading down from the heavens, as if they themselves lamented what was happening to the world below. I was walking with my head bowed, drenched from the downpour, my ears and tail drooping. I had my arms wrapped around myself as if I truly believed that simple action could thaw the terrible frost that encased my heart, and warm my frozen soul.
I stopped beneath a city lamp, and sat down with my back against it. I felt it coming, I couldn't stop it... I simply let it happen. I cried. I cried without tears, for the tears had long since dried up. I cried about the world being cruel. I cried about my parents disowning me. I cried about why the world couldn't accept those who changed for being what they were and move on. I cried for a long time, people walking past me in umbrellas, briskly skirting my small yellow circle of light on the sidewalk, not even caring to glance at me.
Once I stopped crying, I lay there for hours... waiting for death to come and take me under his wing. I had thought he came, at one point, and felt his cloak block out the falling rain above me. I relaxed, defeated as I waited for the feeling of being alive to cease, my heart to stop, my lungs to stall, my body to numb. But none of that happened. Instead, a voice spoke to me. It was a gruff voice, full of experience and battles.
"Are you okay?"
I opened my eyes. They had changed when I changed, and instead of their normal grey-blue color they were slightly larger, mostly iris. They were the stark contrast such as fire within ice. My eyes were the color of frost with small sparks of gold, and they appeared as if, instead of natural, trapped in suspended animation as the freezing touch of winter arrived all too suddenly and froze them where they stood.
I gazed up at an outrageously tall gray wolf, even though I could tell he was only four years older than me, he was way too tall for his age. He had the slight smell of maturity coming from him, and my sensitive nose easily picked up on it. That's how I could tell.
"I... I'm fine..." I told him, sitting up and rubbing my eyes as if sleepily.
"What's your name?" He asked, cocking an eyebrow.
I was about to respond, but I stopped myself before I gave him the name that my parents had bestowed upon me, and then cast out of their lives as soon as what they had attached it to had changed irrevocably. I thought for a moment, and gave him my reply:
"My name... my name is... Rogue." I thought the name suited me. I would live up to it. I would be someone who went against the grain, surviving despite all else. I knew, when I renamed myself with that string of letters, that I would never let myself down. I would live up to that name. I found myself sitting up straighter, and felt a more determined glimmer in my eyes.
"Do you have a home?" He asked me. I would have trusted him too, for simply extending a courteous question to me such as that would have merited my full capacity of trust after such a long period of being ignored. But no. The voices said not to trust him. The voices... they said never to trust anyone. They said that people and furries alike will betray anyone to benefit themselves in the long run. I trusted the voices, I trusted them because they spoke wisdom.
The wolf nodded after my silence, having guessed my answer, and extended his hand down as he gave me a laminated card. It had a phone number on it. I hadn't bothered to read it at the time, I just stuffed it into my pocket and stood up, thanking him for worrying about me. I then continued walking, tired, hungry, and broken, walking wherever the sidewalk had room for me among the billion and a half new homeless on the streets of the world.
The memory ended, but something was bugging me. The more I thought about the memory, the more it felt like I was missing something. I thought harder, summoning up all of the collective brainpower I could muster, dissecting everything and fitting it together in all of the possible combinations of events that might have made sense. What was it!? What was I missing! It killed me to not realize something the first time I take it in! My head was a buzzing mix of nonsense, whirling with possibilities of a sequence of events. I tried matching faces to faces, words to people. Suddenly -
I stopped walking, the hazy part of my mind clearing. That card... where was that card?
I set the backpack in my left hand on the ground. It held all my valuables and mementos. There it was, all the way at the bottom, folded half a dozen ways but still laminated and legible. I read the label on it, and fished out my cellphone. The label read:
When All Hope is Lost, Dial This:
I dialed the number, and raised it to my ear to listen to the dial tone. I picked up my backpack with my free hand and noticed that through my daydreaming, I had walked all but into the forest already.
A voice, the voice from my memories, came from the phone. I was hit with a double sense of familiarity. Yes, the voice was from the wolf who gave it to me in my memories... but it was also...
The voice also belonged to the wolf that appeared in my History class not a half hour before now.