Caity's World, Part 9Three years later, the world had changed, but not as much as it would in the succeeding year. The precedent-setting Henderson v. Linsky trial was about to be overturned in the Appellate Courts, where the judges would rule two-to-one that the ghostly visage of poor Joanna Henderson was not, in fact, enough of a person to qualify for equal protection under the Constitution, as the poor girl wasnt even visible for half the trial, and during the other half, her existence hadnt been proven by any scientific tests. The Million Monster March down the streets of New York City wouldnt happen for another two months. There had been student demonstrations, of course, but the Cedar Rapids Riot or the Kirkwood Massacre, depending on who told the story wouldnt happen for another five months. The Supreme Court wouldnt rule on Henderson for another year, and the Americans with Changes Act seemed an impCaity's World, Part 98 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Caity's World, Part 14Caitlyn sat glued to the floor, awestruck, and had she not had her forelegs and butt firmly planted on it, she was certain she would have fallen over. Thats I mean but... she trailed off.Caity's World, Part 148 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Wise man say, do not speak until your thoughts are worthy of being heard, said Ji-Cheng dully, settling back down into his tub.
How can my father be alive!? she cried. Ive been to his grave! I I helped choose the words for the stone...
You are here, are you not? asked Ji-Cheng.
How many people do you think know of this place? he continued.
There are at most five or six people who would know of this place and know of me and know of my password. One of those people died in my arms from a gunshot. Two of them died slow, painful deaths years ago, even more wretched, pitiable creatures than
Caity's World, Part 4The mirror conveniently ended just above waist-level, and if Caitlyn squinted a little, she could almost convince herself that the rest of the woman in the mirror was actually a normal human being. She'd tried on five shirts now, and each one didnt look right: This one was too datey, the last was too casual, and the one before that was too formal. This. Wasnt. A. Date. She was just meeting a guy, walking with him for a few blocks, and then going home. Nothing more. Even if he did have that wavy hair.Caity's World, Part 48 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Shed already concluded that he didnt need to know that Kat was out of town. It was simpler to just act as if everything was normal. Well, as normal as she could feel being stuck as a horse for a year and a half, at least.
A year and a half... she couldnt believe so much time had gone by already. But the cale
Caity's World, Part 13You you knew my father? stammered Caitlyn.Caity's World, Part 138 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Yes, I did, said the misshapen creature, smiling his hideous smile. Knew him, aided him, abetted him and you look quite like him that nose, the mouth though Ill wager those eyes are your mothers.
I I dont understand, said Caitlyn. How do you know him? I mean, he wasnt anyone important.
Was he now? said Ji-Cheng, and waited patiently for her to answer.
But he was just a math teacher! she said. He taught at a community college!
Did he now? said Ji-Cheng.
Alright, then where did he teach?
Oh, he taught one class at Belleville, thats true. Had to keep up appearances. Same reason I taught Chinese at Langstry High.
Well, okay, so if thats true, then what did he really do?
Caity's World, Part 10There comes a time in every persons life when shes had all she can stands, and cant stands no more, and Caitlyn had reached that. She watched him walk away. The only man whod been even remotely interested in her since her Change, and he was a decent man to boot, intelligent, caring, witty, and somehow shed turned him away. The realization that she may have actually rejected him boggled her mind, and she felt her knees sagging.Caity's World, Part 108 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
She turned around and stumbled back into the apartment building, stunned, trying to regain her bearings, and collapsed against a wall. Then there was some shouting around her, and people rushing over to her. She waved them off, and pulled herself back to her hooves. The world was growing blurry. Before anyone could call for medical attention, she darted through the door into the searingly black night and at a full gallop she was running, racing,
Caity's World, Part 20Two years ago, they nicknamed it the Summer of Terror. Society was scared, panicked, certain that this was the end of the world. The drug M M, M-pops, M-sicles, the magic bus, Mos pills, ambrosia, god juice it had a hundred names, and it seemed to be everywhere. It had been created by accident about a year after the Change. High school chemistry teacher Stanley Owen Morris had been trying to make something that would give an average person a little more control over magic, and wound up making the new heroin, the new cocaine, the new ecstasy, a drug that not only made its user feel in control of the world, but made him actually in control. And at the same time that it empowered the body, it ruined the mind, randomly reconnecting neurons and pathways, leaving its victim in a psychedelic stupor,Caity's World, Part 207 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Caity's World, Part 16There had been a bit of an argument as to what to do next, and in the end, Caitlyn won. She needed a rest, she needed a bath, she needed to clean off at least a dozen layers of grime from her hooves, and she wasnt taking no for an answer on any of those. Kim-na had a plan as well, detailed on a piece of old wrinkled paper in her backpack, but the bath won.Caity's World, Part 167 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
The sleazy motel owner had looked at them very strangely when they rented the room, but he wasnt one to argue: Caitlyns Visa card was good, and that was all he really cared. Both were girls? And muddy? With torn clothing? And horses? Hed seen weirder. Not a lot weirder, but weirder. As long as they had the money and didnt scare the other residents, he didnt care what they did in that room. But just to be on the safe side, hed given them the last room on t
Caity's World, Part 6The girls in the secretaries pool had had a great deal of sympathy for her, and several had offered money or said theyd put her in contact with somebody who would help, and while those were good offers, Christine, the only other Changed person among them, had offered her a free place to stay until she got this all sorted out, and that was an offer she couldnt refuse. Christine was a satyr, half a goat from the waist down, with short curly brown hair on her head and an innocent, almost cherubic smile. Christine lived in a three-bedroom apartment with her husband Rob, also a satyr, and the two of them were an amazing pair, almost twins, differing only by Robs curling horns and obviously bulkier physique. Theyd been among the first to change five years ago and soon after met at a self-help group. Theyd quickly become far more than just inseparable.Caity's World, Part 68 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Which was all well and good, thought Caitlyn as she lay sprawl
Caity's World, Part 2She was free. Free as a bird, spinning happily along the hillside, her dress whirling about her, all her cares and worries gone. She was human again, human for good, and the whole horrible nightmare of being a monster was gone, a wisp of a memory. He raced across the hillside and swept her up in his arms, and she swooned. She was human again, finally.Caity's World, Part 28 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Caitlyn frowned. That girl was also a badly-acted character in a sappy movie on a TV set that couldn’t even be heard over the din of the bar. Stupid Hollywood. What did they know about dealing with this? And then, as suddenly as she had appeared, the irritating girl vanished into the unreality that had spawned her as the bartender continued flipping through channels.
Reality was less enjoyable. Caitlyn had already turned down at least three guys who’d tried to pick her up, each with successively worse pick-up lines.
Caity's World, Part 21What do you want? said Caitlyn.Caity's World, Part 217 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Ellen sipped her tea, and van der Wals shrugged. You really dont want any tea? Its a good English blend with just a hint of blackberry.
I want to know what you want, said Caitlyn, her eyes darkening.
Well, I want you to have some tea, said van der Wals. But it seems youre less than interested. So I suppose we ought to get to business. Thats really the problem with you Americans: You never take even a moment to enjoy the finer things in life, to stop and smell the roses. Here we could be comfortably sipping tea and discussing sport like civilized folk, but no, no, youd rather conduct business. Always the brass tacks. Its a shame that with few exceptions he nodded at Ellen you cant do both, but I suppose not everyone can have your father&
Caity's World, Part 3In the intervening days, Caitlyn was more confused than shed remembered ever being. She was, in the words of her boss, wandering around like a zombie. Most days at work, she tried hard to maintain a human appearance, but twice already this week shed transformed back into a centaur without realizing it, once nearly destroying a stall in the womens lavatory in the process.Caity's World, Part 38 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
She wasnt entirely sure why he had unnerved her so much. He was cute, he was suave, he was smart, and for some reason, he seemed to actually like her, and that led to more consternation than she knew how to handle. Was he a weirdo? A psycho? Chasing her on a dare? Did he have ulterior motives? She wasnt a catch; she wasnt some guys dream girl; she was sure of that at least, she was trying to convince herself she was sure of that.
Her mind swirled with possibilities, and on Thursday, s
Caity's World, Part 17They had been driving for some hours, and their escape was starting to seem easy, even if they couldnt agree on a radio station. Caitlyn, for her part, wanted a nice simple mix station, something light, something to divert her from her troubles. But the back window of the truck was open, and Kim-na kept shouting from under her tarp that she wanted to hear good music, and it took Caitlyn some time to realize that good to Kim-na meant gangsta rap to everybody else. Add to that that Kim-na wanted her to crank up the volume to the point where Caitlyns eardrums felt like theyd explode, and they ended up compromising on a Motown oldies station until they were too far away to hear it, and then, to Caitlyns chagrin, Kim-na won, and she found herself driving the next hour with gritted teeth to pounding rap music.Caity's World, Part 177 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
When theyd crossed the Virginia state line and were pas
Caity's World, Part 8Five years and six months ago, the world had Changed. Whether it was for better or for worse hadnt been decided yet.Caity's World, Part 88 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
No-one was entirely clear on what had happened. The facts of the case were pretty obvious, but they left so many gaps that people couldnt help but speculate.
Early on a sunny, crisp November morning five years and six months ago, six black speedboats were spotted running up the river toward the university, flying at full tilt. Eyewitnesses, mostly students on their way to class, reported seeing four men dressed in black leap out of each boat at about 9:05 AM and race silently across the street, up the middle of the practice field through some very confused soccer players, and disappear into the intramural sports building behind it. Reports differed, but the men were visibly armed, and most accounts described the weapons as AK-47s.
Dozens of calls were phoned to 911. A dozen police cars arrived rapidly and
Caity's World, Part 19Caitlyn didnt have much chance to look at Kim-nas wounds, because the same four guards whod tossed her into the room came back only a moment later, grabbed her, and hauled her out as Kim-na shouted after her. Steven just looked sad and defeated, and the door slid shut.Caity's World, Part 197 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
There was a long hallway outside, and they carried Caitlyn down it, with one man holding each of her legs tightly. Had she really been a large horse, she might have been strong enough to squirm against them a little, but she was a centaur, pony-sized at best, and they we so strong that she couldnt move anything except her arms. At first, shed tried to punch them, but she learned her lesson: Punch equals taser equals pain. So she let them carry her, her arms folded and a grumpy look on her face, like a French queen being carried on a throne to her beheading.
The hallway was white, and reasonably lit, and as they passed various doors, she
Caity's World, Part 5The ensuing weekend wasnt perhaps one of Caitlyns better weekends, but it was by no means her worst. Her worst was likely that one in college where shed gotten well beyond drunk on vodka and cranberry juice and well, it was best to forget that weekend and focus on the present. She spent the better part of Saturday cleaning up the rubble that had once been the wall between the living room and the second bedroom. Shed thankfully left the studs intact, so there was merely a big gaping hole of wooden framing between the two, and she vowed to learn once and for all how to hoist drywall and apply spackle properly, ideally before the apartment supervisor did his quarterly rounds. At least this time shed be strong enough to lift the stuff herself.Caity's World, Part 58 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
On Sunday, in an attempt to relax her nerves, she made up a giant bowl of popcorn and tried to watch the Mets get abused by Washington. But with the score at
Caity's World, Part 15The old kerosene lamp flickered dimly, which was perhaps for the best as neither Caitlyn nor Kim-na wanted to see much of their surroundings. The thin layer of sludge clinging to their hooves was covered in a layer of water about a foot deep, or at least Caitlyn hoped it was water. It swirled around her bare ankles and reminded her of the time as a young girl that shed gone down to the river after the spring rains and waded in the slurping, hungry quicksand-like mud at the shoreline to see the blooming lilies. She tried to console herself that the sludge was just mud, but somehow, she couldnt quite produce a convincing argument.Caity's World, Part 158 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Kim-na didnt seem to be terribly happy either as she walked ahead with the lamp. A stream of curses, some of which were not things Caitlyn dared repeat and the rest of which were in some Asian language that Caitlyn couldnt repeat poured from Kim-nas mouth like
Caity's World, Part 11The wind had picked up a little as Caitlyn trotted down Sixth Avenue, and by the time she reached Chinatown, a chill had started to settle into her bones. Somewhat to her surprise, it didnt take much searching to find Yu Sangs Delicatessen; it was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a large red sign, buried among the genuine imported jewellery stores and discount electronic stores along Mulberry Street. It wasnt lit; nor would she have expected that it would be at two in the morning.Caity's World, Part 118 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
So she stood there, trying to decide what to do next in the dim greyish light leaking from the end of the street. This might have been the city that never slept, but that didnt mean an arm or a leg didnt occasionally take a cat-nap, and Chinatown looked deserted.
Figures turned the corner behind her, and she turned around. She could tell from the echoing clops that they were hooved definitely Changed b
Caity's World, Part 25Kim-na skidded to a halt, breathing hard, and leaned over. She was here, she was alive, and somehow shed made it out. She chuckled. She mustve looked like a crazy cross between Rambo and Fantasia to the people on the street, a compact Asian centaur chick in torn clothing, galloping at full speed with a full arsenal strapped to her back. She slipped the semiautomatic rifle off her shoulder and let it drop to the ground, then loosed the chains for her chain-gun. They fell to the hard cement with a clatter. Luckily, nobody important like a cop had seen her before she was able to scurry into this back alley. Every city, even a small one, had run-down back alleys, and for once, she was glad shed grown up in an urban ghetto, because there was no way anybody else wouldve been able to hide so much weaponry here.Caity's World, Part 257 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Those Human Society assholes had put up a hell of a fig
Caity's World, Part 27You knew Caitlyns daddy? said Kim-na, her rifle aimed squarely at the shadowy sliver of a person standing in front of her.Caity's World, Part 277 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
He smiled, his teeth forming a pale crescent-moon shape. I used to be her father, he said in that same soothing, calm baritone voice.
The corrupted figures in the distance turned toward the stadium and solemnly bowed when the clock struck six. The tennis court stopped playing its spirited match and turned quizzically toward the odd procession that was gathering near it. On a platform near the stadium, a disheveled heap of hair and bones, wrapped in a black cloak and sporting fuzzy purple slippers, started shouting something rhythmic and maniacal about the apocalypse and the end of the world and redemption, and held up dirt-smeared, crumpled pamphlets with an ugly green tentacle. The overcast sky turned a darker gray and a chill filled the air as a western breeze came up. The
Caity's World, Part 26It was unnerving to be that high up and to realize that the only thing holding them up was thread, all of it from the soldiers walking around her.Caity's World, Part 267 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
In fact, the whole place was unnerving. The Drider Mobile Command Center everybody called it Drycom was really nothing but a bunch of loose boards and slabs of metal and strips of fabric held together by a dizzying patchwork of spider threads no, no, drider threads, she corrected herself. That was all strange enough by itself, but the fact that the whole base moved once a week to a completely different location in these mountains, well, that was just insane.
The militarys reassurances didnt change Caitlyns unease. For one thing, she was high up, and she was no fan of heights; she preferred the ground when she was human, and she only preferred it more after her Change. For another thing, the whole place swayed. For an
Caity's World, Part 7This isnt fair, you know, said Caitlyn, growling at Wils.Caity's World, Part 78 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Life isnt fair. Deal with it. He smiled up at her sweetly.
They were sitting in the Thai restaurant, and well, three of them were sitting, at least. Despite Caitlyns arguing, Wils wouldnt let her change back, saying that if she wasnt going to act like herself, then he was leaving, so she was stuck as a centaur. This wasnt the first time any restaurant had had to accommodate, and after Henderson v. Linsky most places tried hard to accommodate these days, but the best that the restaurant could do left Caitlyn laying on the floor, her head about six inches lower than Wilss, and her hindquarters sprawling where another table would have been, which was highly embarrassing. She hoped nobody would trip over her.
So how do you know Caitlyn? asked Wils of the other two.
Caity's World, Part 18When her eyes opened, the first thing she saw was searing, blinding white light. Muffled, distorted voices were saying something, and the fuzzy, blurry face of a man shed never seen before was leaning over her, his hand cradling her head. There was more Kim-na was there, leaning over her as well, and she was saying something to the man, but her speech was garbled and echoed like she was speaking through a cardboard tube.Caity's World, Part 187 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Slowly, Caitlyn began to understand their words.
probably be fine, said the man. Her eyes are moving. Shes breathing, and her pulse is back to normal. Thats a good sign.
Yo, for real, you can be positive at a time like this? said Kim-na, and Caitlyn then noticed Kim-nas hands were holding her own head, as if it would fall off the Asian girls shoulders if it wasnt being held steady.
Ive seen worse, said the man.&