“Halloween was yesterday, why are you still wearing your costume?”
“I’m…not wearing one.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong but, you didn’t have wings yesterday.”
I woke up disoriented and in pain. I hadn’t even opened my eyes, but my head throbbed in time with my heartbeat. I cringed in agony as my hands flew up to my head. As I moved, I registered a different pain along my back. I felt sore and my body ached. My empty stomach grumbling in protest. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday, and I had the strangest craving for oranges and honey. I had a few drinks last night, but I didn’t think they’d leave me in this kind of condition. I couldn’t make sense of the sudden cravings either.
When I could finally open my eyes, I felt as if there was something laying on top of me. At first, I thought it appeared to be a heavy purple blanket draped over my body, not that I remembered owning one. I screamed in horror when I looked under the blanket and noticed blood caked on the carpet and on my naked body. When I attempted to stand, I toppled over. That was the moment I realized that the heavy purple blanket wasn’t a blanket, but wings protruding from my back. Between the pain and the added weight, it took me several attempts to stand. When I could finally stand for more than a minute, the sight of my bedroom shocked me. Dangling above my bed were fragments of a clear, hard substance. It looked like a broken pod or a cocoon, large enough to fit a person. Directly below it, bloody mucus covered my bed. It was as if I’d gone through a metamorphosis last night and then fell to rest on the floor where I laid until the morning. I shook my head in disbelief as I took it all in. Thank goodness I didn’t have a roommate, or I’d have a lot of explaining to do.
I felt different; I knew something had changed, apart from my physical transformation. I collected myself to see if I could comprehend the difference. Aside from my skin having lost all scars or blemishes, I seemed to appear the same. I reached up to check my hair, still in a ponytail from last night, yet it felt silkier. As I continued looking around the room, I noticed the sunlight coming through the window was filled with colors I’d never seen before. I squinted my eyes and blinked hard, wondering if it was a hallucination. When I opened my eyes again, the colors were still there. It was strange, but that seemed to be the theme of the day.
I wanted answers about what happened. Hopefully, my best friend Sofia could help me piece it together. It took a lot of thought to decide what to do to conceal my wings. Ultimately, I realized that there was no hiding them and chose my black, backless, halter blouse. It was the best I could do, given the circumstances. I threw on a pair of blue jeans, which took way longer than it should’ve with my wings constantly throwing me off balance. By the time I was dressed, I had lost my patience and was desperate for answers. I slipped on my favorite pair of sandals and left.
I glanced over my shoulders at the magnificent purple wings. They stunned me every time I looked at them. They appeared similar to Monarch Butterfly wings. Their colors were a lovely mix of violet, lavender, and black. They were beautiful, but deceptively heavy. My body was not accustomed to carrying a constant load on my back. After walking in the Florida heat, I felt fatigued, and my wings dragged behind me. I wasn’t strong enough to keep them off the ground.
As I trudged over to Sofia’s house, I got strange looks and catcalls along the way. The dried bloody mucus down my back and on my arms made my appearance garish. Although I tried, I couldn’t reach it to clean it off. Luckily, no one questioned it, thinking perhaps I was still in a Halloween costume. As I walked, I wondered how I slept through such a transformation. It must’ve hurt like hell, yet I had no memory of it. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. I had mixed feelings about the sudden appearance of these wings. I couldn’t deny the marvel of having them and the possibility of being able to fly. However, I could no longer come and go as I pleased. The only reason I arrived here with no issue was that Halloween had been the night before, and everyone still assumed I had my costume on. I was at a loss for what to do next.
Sofia lived just off campus. It wasn’t a long walk, but today it felt never ending. I walked up the long driveway to the modern three-bedroom home. Once again, I found myself wondering how she could afford such a house. I assumed it was her parents’ house, but I didn’t know for sure. I knocked on her door and waited patiently. She was probably still passed out after last night. As I waited, the craving for oranges had begun again. What in the world was wrong with me? I had always loved oranges, but I rarely craved them. Sofia threw open the door, distracting me from my errant thoughts. Her blond hair was a tangled mess, and her makeup was smeared all over her face. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and frowned as her brows furrowed.
“Halloween was yesterday. Why are you still wearing your costume?”
“I’m not wearing one,” I confessed, a little wary of her reaction.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but… you didn’t have wings yesterday.”
I sighed, impatient with this exchange taking place outside. The heat bearing down on my fatigued body, sweat running down my brow and in between my wings.
“No, Sofia, I did not have wings yesterday. Are you going to let me in? It’s hot as hell out here, and I’m tired from the weight of these things. I’d like to sit down.”
She hesitated briefly as she looked me over, but ultimately let me in. “What happened to you, Lena?”
I walked into her house and found a dining room chair I could sit comfortably on with wings. Once my butt hit the chair, I let out a contented sigh of relief. My back was killing me. Sofia came in after me and sat across from me with an expectant look on her face. Right, she expected me to tell her what happened.
I recounted my morning for her, telling her everything that happened and explaining to her how I felt different. As I was talking, my wings kept twitching in agitation.
“What happened last night, Sofia? Do you remember?”
She started playing with her hair as she got lost in thought. She did this often when she was nervous. Why was she suddenly nervous?
“I remember a few things, but honestly, not everything. Maybe if we talk about it, we could figure it out.”
I nodded anxiously, ready to get this mystery solved. “I’ll go first!” I sat up a little straighter in my chair. “Okay, last night I came here to pick you up, and then we went over to Bernie’s house for his Halloween Party. We got there around 8:00. Right away, Bernie came over and insisted we try his special punch. We both took a cup and started walking around, enjoying the party. The punch was sweet and fruity, which surprised me. It didn’t taste spiked, but it had a strange aftertaste. I remember Bernie coming back to make sure I had another fresh cup when I finished the first. At one point, we got separated because you were talking with Seth, and I got caught up talking to a few of the girls in our business class. That’s when things got hazy on my end. The second cup of punch must’ve been stronger than the first, because I started getting dizzy. I remember going to sit down on the couch after that.”
“Oh! That’s when that hottie from our business class, Carlos, came over and sat next to you.” Sofia exclaimed, bounding in her chair. “He brought you another cup of punch. I knew you probably had enough because I was feeling the effects and I’m not a lightweight like you. When I tried to walk over to you, Seth grabbed me and kissed me! You know how long I’ve been crushing on him; it shocked the shit out of me.” Sofia said with a big smile on her face. “Although, I don’t remember a lot after that.” Her face fell as she admitted that out loud.
“I remember when Seth kissed you. I didn’t want to interrupt you because I knew how much you were into him. So, I stayed put talking to Carlos. I mean, it’s not like it was a punishment. The guy is super-hot with that fit body and that dimpled smile!” I sighed as I thought about my slight infatuation with the guy. “Although he kept insisting that I drink the punch. I remember thinking he was being pushy about it, and I didn’t understand why. It bothered me, but the guy also made me super nervous with all his hotness. I remember I heard him whisper something strange, like, ‘I hope this works, we’re out of time.’ When I asked him what he meant, he denied saying anything, which only added to my confusion.” I scratched my head, wondering if I imagined that part.
“Carlos told me he wanted to show me something, but would only do so after I finished my drink. At that point, I felt tipsy but not drunk, so I didn’t see the harm in finishing. When I stood up, I swayed on my feet. I got scared for a moment, thinking I made a huge mistake and something bad was going to happen. Carlos reached out and held my waist, steadying me. He assured me I was going to be okay. Oddly enough, I believed him. I got this overwhelming feeling that he would not hurt me.”
I shook my head, trying to fight off that foggy feeling I was having. The more I tried to remember, the more my head would pound. We both sat there in silence for a few beats, staring at each other. This was where the biggest gap in my memories was.
“Do you remember anything else?” I rubbed my temples, trying to relieve my headache. If it were possible, my headache had gotten worse.
“All I have left is flashes of random things and I don’t know what they mean.” I looked up at Sofia to gauge her reaction. She had a blank look on her face.
“Same… There was this dark room with two beds in it and nothing else. The only light was from the lit candles.” Her look was far away as she tried to recall. “Seth and Carlos locked us in there.” Frowning, she looked back at me. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I can’t remember anything else.”
I frowned as I considered her reaction, or lack of it. “Doesn’t it bother you we don’t remember? Why were we locked in a room? How did we get home? Did anything else happen that we weren’t aware of?”
Sofia shrugged her shoulders as she looked me over. I could swear I saw envy in her eyes. “I guess I drank more than I thought.” She said as she picked at her nails. It was all she said about the matter. She wasn’t the least bit concerned about what happened to either of us. This bothered me deeply.
“You don’t think… whatever they were doing made these things pop out, do you?” Things were coming together, and I was getting the feeling that perhaps this wasn’t an accident, but why me?
“Seriously, Lena? I didn’t think it was possible for someone to grow wings overnight.” Sofia said with contempt as she rolled her eyes. “Are you sure you’re not pulling my leg here and this isn’t an elaborate prank?”
I stood up from the chair abruptly, knocking it over. I couldn’t believe she thought I was lying. “If not, then what the hell happened last night?” I asked as I marched up to her and turned around, slapping her in the face with my wings. “Do they look or feel fake to you? How about the splatter down my back from when they came out, or the raw, red skin around the base of the wings? Does that look fake to you?” I asked, irritated. The angrier I got, the more my wings started moving. Without meaning to, I lifted myself off the ground. Not really flying, but hovering.
“Holy Shit Lena!” Sofia shouted out as soon as my feet left the floor. I spun around somehow, still hovering in the air, and saw her face filled with awe.
Seeing my friend look at me in that way was like a hard dose of reality to bring me back down to Earth. Literally. I dropped swiftly and fell on my ass. “Dammit!”
Sofia reached over to help me stand. When I gripped her hand, I got a flash of something. It was her and an older gentleman in yellow robes. They were laughing together. The image fled as soon as it appeared, and I didn’t understand it. I shook my head as I tried to get back up. Mid-stand, my phone fell out of my back pocket just as a text message came in. I picked it up but didn’t recognize the number. Not wanting to deal with an anonymous texter, I put the phone back in my pocket to deal with it later. As soon as I walked back to the table, it started ringing. When I pulled my phone out again, it was the same number calling me. I contemplated letting it go for a few seconds before I realized whoever it was wouldn’t give up, so might as well answer.
“Lena! Are you okay? Where are you? You shouldn’t be alone. Something terrible could’ve happened to you!”
The male voice on the other end of the line was frantic. Something about his voice sounded familiar. The timber felt soothing to my ears, but I didn’t know why. It was weird. For a moment, I felt calm, but it didn’t last. My hectic morning rushed back quickly, and the irritation set back in. Apparently, I was lacking the brainpower to figure out who was on the other end of the line.
“I’m sorry. Who is this?” I asked as my frustration kicked up to an all-new level. Now some guy is telling me something terrible could’ve happened… like what? Grow wings?
“It’s Carlos! You don’t remember me?” He asked incredulously. I blushed as mortification filled me. Damn, that’s who that voice belonged to. I didn’t mean to be a bitch, but I was kind of having a rough day.
“I’m sorry, Carlos. It’s been a rough morning and my mind has been elsewhere. No offense.” I tried to play off my embarrassment and to soothe his ego.
“Are you okay? Is there something different about you today?” He asked cryptically.
“Hell-yeah, there something different about me, but I don’t want to talk about that right now!”
“Good! I’m coming to you. Where are you?” He asked, and my brows furrowed in confusion.
“What? Why?” I absently rubbed my forehead as I contemplated this.
“Look, I really like you. You’ve always been sweet with me, and while I had a good time with you last night, you don’t owe me anything.”
I was hoping to dissuade him from seeking me out. The last thing I needed was to see another person I had to explain things to. Plus, did I trust him? My gut was telling me he was okay, but I wasn’t sure.
“Lena, please. I’ll explain when I get there. Don’t talk to anyone until I see you.” He sounded desperate and genuinely nervous.
“Too late. I’m at Sofia’s house,” I admitted quietly.
“That’s okay. Just don’t leave. I’ll be there in ten.”
Before I could protest, he hung up the phone. I looked at the screen in deep thought. What the hell was going on? Why did he feel like he needed to come to me? How did he even know where Sofia lived? I looked over at Sofia, and she was staring at me with her brows raised and her head tilted to the side. I blew out a breath. “I guess Carlos is coming over,” I told her, which only furthered her confusion. I shook my head at her. “Don’t ask for an explanation because I don’t have one. I don’t even know how he got my phone number or your address.”
“Is he bringing Seth with him?” She asked as she stood from the chair frantically.
I shrugged my shoulders. “No clue. I didn’t even know he knew Seth.”
I had Seth in a different class and we talked sometimes, but I didn’t know he was friends with Carlos.
“They’re best friends Lena!” she screamed as she ran into her room.
I rolled my eyes. Sofia and I were so different. Sometimes I wondered how we even became friends. She was always chasing guys and had tons of drama for it. I had no room for all that drama. I took my education seriously. I was here on a scholarship and couldn’t afford to lose it. Even though I would go out and party, I made sure it never interfered with my academics. I made hard decisions because I was the one responsible for my education. We only had one year left and then we’d be out in the world, hopefully in our desired professions, and I didn’t want to fail. Sofia often let her social life dictate her schedule and her grades suffered for it. I shook my head. She was getting all dolled up, just in case Seth showed up. Whatever, to each their own right?
I started pacing, feeling nervous. What was he going to say when he saw me? Would he freak out and run out the door? The more I paced, the more my wings started moving. Once again, without realizing it, I was floating. This time I mentally pushed my wings to fly higher, but there must’ve been some kind of disconnect between my brain and body. Instead of them flapping more to bring me higher, they stopped moving altogether, and I fell on my ass. Again. I screamed in frustration as I stood up.
Just as I got into a standing position, the door flew open. Carlos and Seth rushed inside, looking for trouble. My scream gave them the wrong impression. My heart started beating wildly in my chest as I took Carlos in. He really was handsome. Until now, I never realized the extent of my infatuation with him. I didn’t normally allow myself to become involved with guys, but seeing him settled something in me I didn’t understand.
His face paled when he saw me. He looked at me in awe before he dropped to one knee with his head bowed. Seth did the same thing. “Forgive me, your grace. I did not know.”
“What? Your grace?! Why are you calling me that?”
I was completely dumbfounded. Neither one of them would look at me. They kept their eyes trained on the floor.
My voice carried a strong sense of power that radiated through the house and shook the windows. I stumbled back in shock at myself. I could feel my body shaking as the realization set in. My heart pumping so hard that I could hear the blood whooshing in my ears. I was on the precipice of something life-altering, and it terrified me.
Carlos peeked up at me as I hyperventilated. He got up immediately and walked up to me. “Is it okay for me to touch you?” He looked uncertain and held his hands at a respectful distance from my person.
I nodded, trying desperately to take in air. As soon as he took a hold of my shoulders and looked me in the face, I started to calm. Suddenly, the smell of oranges and honey surrounded me. He stared into my eyes and took in a deep breath, and I followed his lead as he stroked my arms in a soothing manner. After a couple of minutes, I felt normal again.
“It’s okay. Everything is okay. We have been looking for you for a long time. Hope was all but lost. It worried us there was no one of the divine lineage left.”
Divine lineage? What was he talking about? My brain was on overload. I felt like I might faint as my body swayed. Black dots appeared in my vision suddenly. I closed my eyes shut to make it stop, but that seemed to only make it worse.
“LENA!” was all I heard before I passed out.
To Be Continued in Chrysalis of Change. Available now on Amazon.