"Funny, you look more like a rat to me."
Raven's smirk widened as her eyes narrowed in concentration. The air around me seemed to thicken, and even if the black energy was missing, I could tell Raven's magic was at work. As it began to close around me, my last coherent thought was that something very bad was about to happen.
Just like every other transformation, it began with a tingling pulse that spread out from the center of my body. One significant difference, however, was that this time I wasn't prepared. THIS time, I was going to feel it. The tingling suddenly thickened, and every fiber of my being tore apart at the seams.
How long is a second? Scientific definitions aside, it's all a matter of perspective. A moment can pass in the blink of an eye, or seem to linger for minutes to hours. As my friends watched, I changed from a fly into a rat. The insect vanished, the rodent took its place. For them, it was over in an instant. For me, it was an eternity.
Every nerve in my body was on fire with the pain of cells, muscles and organs dying and decaying. I felt my six legs shrivel as they were drawn back into my body, pain flooding through me as I felt my limbs crushed, twisted, and finally severed. My wings crumpled and folded inwards, veins and hemolymph mashed together and fused into the shifting, amorphous mass that was my melting exoskeleton. My eyes burned as ten-thousand compound receptors burst and flowed together before emerging as single corneas. The dorsal tube contracted and grew into a heart, arteries and veins bursting out and winding through my body at the speed of light. My thorax and abdomen fused, ears and a nose sprouted from my head. A jaw grew from the skull, and teeth emerged from the gums only to be ground together in the raw, bleeding sockets as more muscles and organs formed and grew too fast for any instrument to detect.
It was atrophy and necrosis and hyperplasia and osteogenesis all rolled into one. It was the simultaneous death and rebirth of every cell in my body. It was the greatest agony I had ever felt. And the entire time, they all just stood there and watched.
And through it all, I knew nothing but pain. Simple muscles vanished, and the anguish lessened, only for bones to split and form, muscles wrapping around them as new pain blanketed my changing form. But the worst was yet to come.
Even as my newly formed spine contorted in agony, even as every muscle twitch and spasm threatened to split me in half, I felt it in my head. It was a high and frantic wailing, like the building wind of a storm as it sweeps over the land. It was primitive and garbled, formed more of pain and fear than actual thought. Even as my human mind floundered in the pain of my body's transformation, the rat's instincts were building to a crescendo, threatening to overwhelm what little coherency I retained.
I needed to stand against it, to will it back into my subconscious and keep my own thoughts, my own identity, in control. If not, my human mind would be broken and disjointed, and I would meld my consciousness with the animal. No memory, no awareness of what I once was. No way to change back. Every morph from the smallest insect to the largest mammal had its own instincts that I was forced to overcome. But this time I was weak, hanging limply in the grasp of more pain than I had ever experienced before. I could barely think straight, let alone resist the primal urgings that roared and howled around me. I made a feeble push against the rat's manic, chittering nature, but it was far too strong. The noise wrapped and twisted around me. Louder. Louder. The storm shrieked and pounded in my ears. LOUDER. LOUDER. My heart raced, newly formed body stretched as taut and rigid as an extended spring. LOUDER. LOUDER.
I could feel myself drifting away. The roaring storm giving way to a hushed, rapid whisper. At this point I didn't even realize that they were my own thoughts.
exposed danger danger four of them have to run have to hide all around not safe not safe need to run need to run where to hide pain so much pain where to go have to hide danger four
The transformation was complete. My body was fully formed and unharmed, not even phantom echoes remained of the agony that once ripped through it. But I was still not myself. The voice was filling my head, looping over and over in its primitive screaming. I could think of nothing but those thoughts; the need to flee, the need to hide, to escape from these dangerous things that watched me silently.
I felt a rush of air as I fell, striking the ground with an undignified thump. A sudden moment of clarity broke through my otherwise animal mentality. How had I been in the air? Where had I fallen from. I caught a glimpse of a white, billowing cape in front of me.
The word bubbled up from some dark, forgotten depths of my mind. A part of me had no understanding of the word, and continued urging me to flee, to find some hidden corner or hole in the wall and disappear forever. And yet, a greater part of me knew that the word was important, and I latched onto it, my thoughts gaining complexity as memories and understanding crept back into my consciousness.
It took only an instant for my human self to regain control over my body, but as I said before, an instant can be a very long time. It was the struggle of a lifetime to find my way back to myself, clawing and pulling at scattered thoughts and piecing together broken memories as I fought to untangle my own self from the animal that had threatened to consume me. After an everlasting struggle in the darkness, I tore the rat's instincts away from me, casting aside the chaotic bundle of screams and whispers.
A third eternity passed as I lay there, though it was but nanoseconds to the rest of existence. I was exhausted. Shell-shocked. Broken from the pain of being torn asunder and rebuilt anew. And then there was the knowledge that I had almost lost myself, almost regressed into little more than a mindless beast.
My powers had never before seemed so terrifying.
The thought of lost humanity sparked an almost irrational fear in me. I needed to be human; I had to return to my own body. In that panic, I nearly transformed, nearly sentenced myself to another eternity of torment. Luckily, my ordeal had not made me that reckless.
I calmed my thoughts, steadied my breathing, and thought back to the first lesson Mento had taught me. With a quick mental twinge, I temporarily deadened the connections to my body's nociceptors, effectively cutting off all physical sensations. With that accomplished, I morphed back to my human self. This time, the process was over in an instant.
As far as my friends were concerned, it was over and done with. Raven turned me into a rat, I transformed back, asked in amazement how she could do that (I personally think I deserve a goddamned Oscar for keeping the terror out of my voice), and then we ran off to save the day. Raven never even apologized. Not that it would make any difference.
A line had been drawn. A bridge had been burned. There was no going back.
We're still teammates. She's still my friend. I think I'm still in love with her. But I can't trust her. I don't feel safe around her. She has complete power over me. On a whim, she could change me again, and again. A few successive transformations could easily shut down my brain from the cumulative trauma. One lucky morph could override my own mind with another animal's, for good this time. She could destroy me in an instant, and there's not a damn thing I could do to stop her.
My pulse speeds up whenever she looks at me. The slightest touch makes me freeze up. The sight of her magical energy makes my throat clench in panic, and I almost reflexively deaden my senses when I hear the words of her mantra.
She holds my life in the palm of her hand; and the hell of it is, she doesn't even know.
Whew! Glad that one's over with. Had that particular idea a couple years back, but didn't know exactly how to write it out. The first time I saw the 'Spellbound' episode I was really intrigued by that scene. Even though it was a throwaway event and was never mentioned or referenced again, BB's reaction interested me. The way he asked how Raven morphed him seemed to have this underlying sense of fear in it, and I wondered how being forcibly transformed would feel from his end.