'Ok,' I thought to myself. 'Just try to calm and don't attract any unwanted attention.'
It's been about forty minutes when I've realized that I've been turn into an anthro fox-like creature. I've been spending the time trying to stay calm and figuring out what to do. I can't go to ALPS nor let Margaret see me like this. Maybe I can sneak out of here and-
'No, I can't do that,' I thought. 'Not without having Margaret seeing me. It's Friday and that's when we both go to the bus stop.'
At Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, my sister goes to college around the same time that I go to ALPS, so we usually go together to the bus stop at those days. To do that, she wakes up around the same time that I do. That would mean she should be up by now.
"Hey Daren, are you up?"
'Oh dogs,' I thought. 'She's up.'
"Yeah," I said. "Why?"
"Because it's about six o'clock," she said. "Are you feeling ok?"
"Er, no," I said. "I'm not feeling well enough to go to ALPS today."
"Are you sure?" she said. "You sound ok."
'It's not how I sound ok, it's how I look like an anthro fox,' I thought.
"Yes, I'm definitely sure I'm not ok," I said.
"Well, just to be sure," Margaret said.
I then heard her touch the brass doorknob.
I quickly grabbed the doorknob and said, "Please don't come in."
"Daren? What's wrong?" she said.
"It's just that I don't want you to catch what disease I got," I said. "Besides, I've already check the thermometer and it said that my temperature's 102.3*F."
"Oh," she said. "Ok. I guess you can stay home today."
I heard her removed her hand from the doorknob and walked away from my door. I locked the door so that she cannot get in and see me like this. I then went to my bed and sat on it with my hand rubbing my head.
'Sigh, that was close,' I thought. 'Good thing Margaret's not the cleverest person on this planet.'
As I sat there on my bed I wondered what happened that cause my transformation into a anthro fox. Could it be that someone sneak into the house and inject something that cause this? I search my body to see any puncture wounds. I didn't saw any, but with all this fur it's makes seeing my own skin very hard.
I thought about last night, when I was talking to Dylan and looking at foxes at DeviantART, especially the anthro-
'Wait a minute,' I thought. 'Could it be those chocolate bars from REA have something to do with this?'
"Hey Daren," Margaret said at the other side of the door. "I'll be going to college now. Oh, by the way, ALPS called and told me that school's cancel for today."
"What?" I said.
"Apparently, there's a large amount of missing students. Not just at ALPS, but at all high schools around the city as well," she said.
"What??" I said.
"In fact so many, that it would be pointless to open up to only five or more students that didn't disappear overnight," she said.
"What!?" I said.
"So have a good time home today," she said. "See you later."
I heard her walked down the hallway and heard the front door open. But I heard her picked something up, went back in, and walked back to my door.
"Here's a package for you, Daren," Margaret said through the door.
'What? I didn't order anything,' I thought. 'So who would send me an package in the middle of the night?'
"J-just leave it at the door," I said.
"Ok," she said.
I heard her put the package in front of my door, walked down the hall, and leaving the house. I waited for a moment then looked out the window. The windows are darker than the average so, with my lights off in my room, it would be hard, if not impossible, for someone at the outside to looked at the inside. It's when the lights in my room are on that someone could looked inside here. I looked at my sister walking down the sidewalk and she's still normal, unlike me, who's been changed into an anthro fox.
When she's out of sight, I unlocked my door and opened it. This box is large, about 2ft^3, but when I picked it up, it's not that heavy. I carried the box to my room and put it on my bed. I then try to find my pocket knife and, after awhile, I turn on the lights and spotted it on the bedside. I sighed, flicked it opened, and cut it opened. Inside of it is some type of clothing, like the one that man wore yesterday afternoon, and a cell phone.
I looked out the window and saw a orange cat, like the one from last night, staring at me from the other side. The cat jump off when I've spotted him. I went to the window and watch the cat run down the street 'till he's out of sight.
'Could that be the same cat from last night?' I thought.
Before I could ponder over this, I heard the phone from the back room ringing.
'That's strange,' I thought. 'Who would call at this time of the morning?'
I ran out of my room, through the hall, across the dining, and into the back room where the phone's ringing.
I picked it up and said, "Hello?"
"Daren?" the female caller reply.
"Anna?" I said. "What's wrong?"
"Something happened over the night and now I can't go to school today," Anna said.
"Let me guess," I said. "You were changed into something you cannot believe."
"Yes. The same happened to you?"
"Yeah. No joke."
"Because of the this, I don't think I can face even my own family now."
"I know the feeling."
"To tell you the truth, I'm not calling from home."
"No. I'm calling from Salus Park."
"But that's an public place! People can see you!"
"True, but I'm wearing clothing someone gave me this morning."
"Are they similar to the ones that man was wearing yesterday?"
"Yes. It seem that someone did the same to you."
"Yeah. Makes me feel like someone knew that this would happened."
"How about the others? You know, Kyler, Karson, Ethan, Tim, Jon, and Chris?"
"I've already check with Ethan and the same happened to him and his brothers. They're coming here to Salus Park too. I'm not sure about the others. Why did you asked?"
"Because, all eight of us are connected by one, or rather three, things."
"The REA chocolate bars?"
"Do you think REA have something to do with this?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if they did."
"It make sense, but maybe we've only escape their plan, if they're the ones behind this chaos."
"Chaos? What are you talking about?"
"You don't know, do you? About the missing teenagers all over the city? It's all over the news."
"I've heard of that. Quite a shock to me. I guess the same happened to them-"
"Not really. If REA did something to the MiracleX, it doesn't makes them into some type of human/animal."
"It changed them into animals, with no knowledge of their previous human life."
"W-what?? W-what makes you say-"
"On the way over here at Salus Park, I saw many animals of all types. Foxes, wolfs, badgers, you name it."
"Ple-- --me he-- at Sal-- Pa--."
"What Anna? You're breaking up."
The connection died and our conversation ended there. I guess Anna didn't have her cell phone completely charged up or there was some interferences with the signal. As I sat there gritting my teeth in frustration, I thought about the streets filled with animals when the students from all high schools in the city disappear overnight. I doubted if anyone could drive in this condition if there are animals of all types on the-
'Margaret!' I thought. 'If the streets are filled with a lot of animals, then the streets would be close! There's no way she can go to college in that condition! In fact, she would just come home!'
I then heard the front door being unlocked and opened.
"Daren, I'm back," Margaret said as she moved towards the dining room. You should've seen the condition of the street-"
She stopped when she saw me as an anthro fox.
"Wow!" Margaret said. "Who are you!?"
'Wow,' I thought. 'For a moment there, I thought she would freak out.'
"Margaret?" I said.
"You know my name!?" she said.
"Margaret," I said. "It's me, Daren."
"Daren!?" she said. "How- I mean, can you prove that you are Daren?"
I thought for a moment, then said, "You're a cat person. In fact, most of the cats are yours, like Binky and Luckylady. But there's one dog you loved and his name was Foxy."
"Daren," she said. "What happened? Is this the reason you didn't come out of your room?"
"Yes," I said, "I admit that's the reason. I didn't expect that school would be cancel nor that you would return."
"I can understand that," Margaret said, "but how this happened?"
I explained to her the dream that I had last night and what I’ve discovered when I’ve gotten up. I’ve also explained to her about that called from Anna and our theory that REA have something to do with this. When I’ve finished, Margaret explained about the condition of the streets outside. She also explained that, due to the streets being filled with animals, thus jamming the roads, she decided to skip college for today.
When she finished, I said, “If REA have something to do with this, what would they gain? Streets full of animals?”
“Don’t look at me,” Margaret said. “I’m not the mystery reader of our family.”
Just then we’ve heard something, like a cell phone ringing. It can’t be Margaret’s cell ‘cause she keeps her cell on silent. I then realized that it must be the cell phone that was in the package along with the clothes. I rushed to my room with my sister following me.
I picked up the cell phone, flipped it opened, and said, “Hello?”
“So, YoU’vE rEcEiYe ThE pAcKaGe I’vE sEnT yOu,” a man voice said. “GoOd JoB.”
"Ok, who are you?" I said.
“NeItHeR eNeMy NoR fRiEnD.”
“Ok, cut the MGS reference now, really. Who are you?”
“YoU sHaLl KnOw Me By ThE nAmE KEmE.”
“So, you are the one that sent us that package this morning?”
“YeS. I’m AlSo ThE oNe ThAt SeEt YoU tHe PaCkAgE aT yEsTeRdAy AfTeRnOoN.”
“You did? You were that guy with that tail?”
“Er, YeAh. I FiGuRe YoU mIgHt NeEd ThEm.”
“How? What’s the point?”
“To SaVe YoU.”
“Save me? How does turning me into an anthro fox save me?”
“MiRaClEX TrAnSfOrM a PeRsOn InTo An AnImAl. AnImAm AnD ATtHrO wAs AbLe To ReTaIn WhAt HuMaNiTy YoU hAvE.”
“MiracleX? So REA-“
“ArE tHe OnEs BeHiNd ThIs CrIsIs? YeE, tHeY aRe?”
“But why? What could they gain from all of this?”
“I’lL tElL yOu OnCe YoU aRe WiTh ThE oThErS tHaT I’Ve SaVeD.”
“You mean… How will you know that I’m there with them? Will you be there too?”
“I HaVe My AcCeSs To SuCh InFoRmAtIoN? GOoD bYe.”
He then hanged up on me with no way for me to call him back. I closed the cell phone and put it down on the bed. I then turned to Margaret who has a worried looked on her face.
"What do we do now?” she said.
I walked down the sidewalk, wearing the clothing Keme gave me, towards Salus Park with Margaret by my side. As we entered the park, I thought about that happened earlier.
After that call from Keme, I’ve called Kyler and Karson and told them to get Chris and head to Salus Park. Margaret and I waited until it was 9:00 AM, when the streets are open now that animal control had gotten the animals. It’s interesting how they’ve reacted, as if they were expecting it.
When we’re about 15 feet into the park, I said to Margaret, “What time is it?”
She glanced at her watch and said, “Half hour after nine.”
“Good thing there are not many people in the park today,” I said.
“It’s sure is a good thing,” a familiar voice said.
We turned to our right and saw Kyler dressed in that same black clothing, with a hood and a cape to cover his face and tail. He motioned his hand to followed him into the basketball court building. I guessed that’s where we’re meeting. We went to the doors of the building with Kyler leading the way.
He opened the door and said, “Come in, quickly.”
As my sister went into the building, I turned around to see if there was anyone there looking at us. I then saw that same orange cat from earlier, staring at us. The cat then ran out of the park.
‘That cat again,’ I thought. ‘Could that cat be-‘
“Daren, hurry up.” Kyler said, interrupting my thoughts. “We don’t have much time.”
“Uh, coming,” I said.
I went into the building while Kyler jam the door with a metal rod so that no one else can come in. I looked around and saw eight people in here, including Kyler and Margaret. I’m guessing that the others in the same clothing as I’m in now are Anna, Ethan, Tim, Jon, Karson, and Chris.
“What took you so long,” one of them said, probably Anna.
“W-we’ve waited ‘till the streets are open,” I said.
“Your sister’s here too,” another said, I’m guessing Ethan. “Does she know about this?”
“If you mean about you guys being turned into were-creatures, then yeah,” Margaret said.
“I guess we’re free to remove our hoods now that everyone’s here,” I’m guessing Tim said.
We all removed our hoods and, for the first time, I saw what they’ve been transformed into. Anna’s a red fox, like me, except that her fur is silver, Kyler’s a grey wolf, Ethan, Tim, Jon are ethropian wolf, gray fox, and golden jackal, respectively, Karson’s a long hair gray color cat, and Chris’s a coyote. We’ve looked at each other for a while, in silences.
Karson finally broke the silence and said, “What do we do now?”
“We wait until he calls again,” I said. “Does anyone have speakers for a cell phone?”
“Yes,” Anna said. She pulled out a small portable speakers set from her cloak pocket.
“Why?” Jon said. “Who will call?”
Just then the cell phone that I got from Keme rung again. I took the speakers from Anna and connected them to the cell phone.
I then put them on the ground, flipped the cell phone opened, and said out loud, “Hello?”
“So, YoU’rE aLl HeRe.” Keme said from the cell phone.
“How did you know-?” I said.
“AlL wIlL bE aNsWeR iN gOoD tImE,” he said.
“Who the heck are you?” Ethan said.
“He calls himself Keme,” I explained to the others. “He called me earlier and explained some things to me. He’s also the same man who sends us the Animam and Anthro bars yesterday.”
“What do you want from us anyways?” Tim said.
“I wAnT yOu To HeLp Me StOp REA,” Keme said. “I wOuLd StOp ThEm MySeLf, BuT hE’s ToO pOwErFuL aNd He HaS a CoUpLe Of ThInGs ThAt CoUlD mAkE mE dIsApPeAr.”
“Who do you mean?” Ethan said.
“EaRh ReGo, tHe HeAd Of REA,” he said.
“But he’s like over sixty,” Kyler said. “What could he do-?”
“ThAt DiDn'T sToP hIm In HiS fIrSt AtTeMpT aT sOmEtHiNg LiKe ThIs,” Keme said.
“First attempt?” I said. “Something like this happened before?”
“NoT eXaCtLy,” he said. “I DoN’t KnOw AlL oF tHe DeTaIlS eXcEpT tHaT iT eNdEd WiTh DoUgLaS ATrA dEaTh At HiS hAnD a YeAr AgO.”
“Who’s hand?” Ethan said.
“He’S kNoWn OnLy To Us As SOlId FOx,” he said.
“Solid Fox?” Karson said.
“He’S tHe GrEaTeSt ThReAt To REA.” he said. “He HiT tHe REA So HaRd LaSt YeAr WhEn ThEy TrIeD tHeIr SeEmInGlY pErFeCt PlAn, ThAt ThIs Is ThE oNlY bAcKuP pLaN tHeY cAn UsE.”
“But why get us to help you?” Kyler said. “Shouldn’t you get this Solid Fox instead?”
“I dOn’T kNoW hOw To CoNtAcT hIm.” He said. “I dOn’T eVeN kNoW hIs ReAl NaMe.”
“So you’ll use up instead?” Tim said.
“CoRrEcT,” he said. “Of CoUrSe, ThOsE fOrMuLaS dId MoRe ThAn ChAnGe YoUr ApPeArAnCe,”
“What do you mean?” Kyler said.
“YoU’lL fInD oUt SoOn EnOuGh,” he said. “NoW, I WaNt YoU tO gO tO tHe REA BuIlDiNg ThRoUgH tHe BaCk. DoN’t WoRrY, tHe DoOr WiLl Be UnLoCkEd. OnCe YoU eNtEr, Go To ThE rOoM tHaT dOoR’s MaRkEd ‘RoOm 101’ AnD wAiT tHeRe UnTiL I CaLl YoU aGaIn.”
There was a clicked and the call ended. I looked at Margaret, then Anna, Kyler, Karson, Ethan, Tim, Jon, and finally Chris. They all have a mixed of feared and determination in their faces.
“We don’t have much choice, do we?” Tim said.
“Nope,” Kyler said.
“Well then,” I said, “allons-y!"
After Keme had called earlier, we’ve headed towards my place to drop off Margaret there. Though I told her that it is for her to attend college for what classes she didn't missed, it's really to make sure that she doesn't get in danger with us. We then headed to Kyler's place to snagged his parents SUV without their noticed and used it to headed to the REA building.
We've reached the REA building at about 11:30 AM and parked it at its public parking place, which is empty excepted for a few cars. It's hard to missed this building since it's the biggest one in the city.
When we've got out of the SUV, I said, "Come on, allons-y."
"Oui, mais ne nous menez pas à mort," a unknown deep voice said.
I was startled by that remarked and said, "Who said that?"
I turned around and saw Chris. He had his hood down so that we can see the coyote grinning proudly.
"You can speak French?" Kyler said.
"And Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Polish, and a bit of Japanese," Chris said.
"That was French?" the jackal said.
"Yeah. Might a well since he has been speaking a bit of French himself," the coyote said while looking at me.
"Well then," I said, "you should put your hood back on before someone see you."
Chris put his hood back on while grinning, proud at speaking French. We then walked towards the REA building and then waking around it, passing by its TV display.
We could hear the TV said, "In the Lycan news, the largest mass disappearance had struck the city. At least three thousand peoples had vanished without a trace overnight. The only thing that all of the people have in common is that they're all high school students throughout the city of Lycan. Along with this crisis is the appearance of animals that appeared overnight all around the city, but this is under control thanks to REA, who are surprisingly ready to combat this crisis."
'That's because they were ready for that, since they're the one that causes this to happened,' I thought. 'I swear that we'll save them and restore them as much as we can.'
We then walked through the alleyway between the REA building and another building without attracting too much attention, mainly because there weren't too many people outside today. When we reached the corner of the REA building, I turned around and saw that orange cat again. The cat once again runs away at soon as I saw him.
'This cannot be a coincidence now,' I thought. 'That cat is following me, but why?'
"Daren," I heard Anna said.
I quickly got out of my thoughts and looked at Anna. “W-w-what is it?”
“Look at this,” she said.
She then lead me to the back door of the building, which should be the entrance was for us. It’s like any other backdoor of a big building like this, sturdy and has a window on it. The anthro vixen pointed above the door to the red light there.
“It’s,” I said, “a red light.”
“That means the door have a alarm active on it,” Kyler said. “We can’t get in that way without getting caught.”
“But he told us to go in that way,” Jon said. “He said the door will be unlocked.”
“He said the door will be unlocked,” the anthro wolf said. “He never said anything about the alarm now, did he?”
The anthro jackal sighed in irritation as Anna said, “So, what do we do now?”
Just then the light above the door become green.
We all looked at it for a second and then Tim said, “What does that mean?”
“That means,” Kyler said, “that the alarm is deactivated and we can go in now.”
“But how?” Ethan said. “Who did it?”
I then heard the cell phone in my pocket ringing. I put my hand in my pocket and took out the cell phone.
I flipped it opened and said, “Hello?”
“SoRrY,” Keme said. “I FoRgOt To DeAcTiVaTe ThE aLaRm EaRlIeR, bUt It ShOuLd Be Ok NoW. ReMeMbEr, Go To RoOm 101.”
He then hung up on me.
I turned to the others and said. “Shall we go into the building now?”
We’re walking through a dark hallway, looking at the walls for the room that Keme told us to go into. Surprisingly, there’re no types of security here. No guards. No security camera. Not even a janitor. Nothing could prevent us from walking through here in this hallway.
“Isn’t it odd that there’re no protections here?” Tim said.
“Perhaps that’s why Keme told us to come through here,” Kyler said.
“Room 105. Room 104,” I said, reading the door numbers. “Room 103. Room 102. Room 102b. Ah, Room 101.”
It’s like any other door here, steel with no window. I turned the doorknob and we entered the room. The room has a table with eight chairs surrounding it at the center the room. At the other side of the room are nine doors with eight of them with a name on it. The doors says Daren, Ethan, Chris, Kyler-
‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. ‘I’m not wearing my glasses. So how could I read them from here?’
“I guess Keme planned all of this in advance,” Karson said.
“But how could he do all of this in advance without being caught?” Kyler said. “Getting those Animan and Anthro chocolate bars and giving them to us, disabling the back door alarm, and setting up this room for us, I doubt that anyone from the outside could do all of this.”
"Are you thinking that he's a mole in REA?" I said.
"The more I think about it, the more I believe that he's a mole of theirs," the anthro wolf said.
"You've seem to have overcome your shyness," Anna said.
'Now that you've mention it,' I thought, 'he has been talking more than usual. He only talks to people he could really trust.'
I looked at Kyler and he looked surprised by the comment Anna made. I guessed he's just as surprised as I am about this. He then flustered a bit, like he's trying to think of something to say, but cannot get the words out of his mouth.
"How about we check out those doors over there and see what's in them?" I said quickly.
"Ok," The others said.
As everyone except Kyler and I headed towards a door with their names on it, Kyler went up to me and whispered to my ear, "Thank you. I owe you one."
'Any time,' I thought.
I went to the door with my name on it and opened it. Inside of it is a small dressing room with clothing, which comprises of a red Hawaiian button-up shirt, a green t-shirt, and blue jeans, and a Diet Pepsi. I'm surprised and a bit nervous that Keme knows about my clothing habits and my favorite drink. In fact, it's creepy that someone other than my friends and family on Earth knows about them. I entered the room and closed it behind me so that I could changed my clothing privately. I'm getting tired of these clothing's I'm wearing anyways.
After a few minutes, I exited out of the room, now wearing those clothing. I have to say that the jeans are some special type since it has a hole where I could put my foxy tail through. Just around the time I've exited it, Chris also exited the room that have his name, now wearing a sleeve-less tan shirt and khaki pants. I noticed that he's not wearing his sunglasses he was wearing earlier, so I could see his eyes now, which is red in color.
"So, what do we do now?" Karson said.
At this time, which's 1:00 PM, we've finished changing our clothing, which is like our street clothes, and we're now sitting on the chairs. Anna's wearing a blue t-shirt and blue jeans, Kyler's wearing a blue t-shirt with a wolf on it and blue jeans, Karson's wearing a yellow t-shirt with blue jeans, Ethan's wearing a red t-shirt and blue jeans, Tim's wearing a white t-shirt with blue jeans, and Jon's wearing a blue t-shirt with black jeans.
"How about those three talk about themselves for now," the anthro jackal said, pointing at Chris, Kyler, and I. "At least, until Keme calls again."
I was about to protest when Chris said, "Ok, we'll do it. We'll start with me."
'Please make it long until Keme calls,' I thought. 'I know what Jon wants from me and I don't want to talk about what had happened two years ago!'
“My name is Chris,” the anthro coyote said. “Chris Potens. Sorry about being all silent until now. I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything. I was afraid that you won’t be able to understand me like most people couldn’t.”
“Why couldn’t we be able to understand you?” Anna said. “You’re talking just fine.”
“You see,” Chris said, “My voice’s deep. Deeper than most people. It’s harder to understand a person with a deep voice than a person with a high voice.”
‘True,’ I thought. ‘It’s harder to get a person to notice something that’s flat than something that’s sharp.’
“Of course,’ Chris said, “that’s was only half of my problem. The other half was my terrible pronouncing skills.”
“Wait a minute,” the anthro ethropian wolf said. “You’re pronouncing your words flawlessly. What makes you think that they’re horrible?”
“That’s the strange part,” the anthro coyote said. “I couldn’t pronounce like this yesterday. It wasn’t until this morning that it has improved to my surprise.”
“What happened?” Ethan said.
“Maybe it was those chocolate bars we all ate yesterday,” I suggested.
“What makes you say that?” Anna said.
“You see,” I explained, “my eyesight was terrible yesterday, even from reading something from six feet away from me. But now it has improved to 20:20.”
“Really?” Karson said. The cat then pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to me. “Can you read this?”
I said as I read it, ““Count it all joy my brethren when you fall into various trials that’s knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its complete work that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.”
“That’s correct,” the anthro cat said as he puts the paper back to his pocket. “So your vision has improved.”
“So those chocolate bars repair any impairment,” Kyler said.
“Maybe,” the anthro jackal said. “Could you continue with your story Chris?”
“There’s really nothing much to say,” Chris said.
“How about you talk your relationship with your parents?” Jon said.
“I,” the anthro coyote said, “don’t really want to talk about that.”
“Why not?” the anthro vixen said.
“Well,” Chris said, “it’s not very good because I don’t agree with them.”
“What do you mean?” Jon said.
“I mean,” Chris said, “I don’t believe what the newspaper have to say and they do, despite all of their lies throughout the years.”
“Lies?” Tim said. “What lies?”
“The news comprises of two things,” Chris said. “Propaganda and lies. Yet those fools don’t see them.”
“Care to explain?” I said.
“You see,” Chris said, “you know the New York Times?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“In 1932,” Chris explained, “one of their reporters covers the USSR and declared that “Uncle Joe’s” a benevolent leader and he is ruling his country flawlessly.”
“What?!” I said. “That’s a bunch of lies! That dictator murdered at least 30 million people during his whole reign.”
“Yet people believe it,” Chris said. “Not only that, they also gave him the Pulizer Prize and, even now, they proudly display it. That’s the problem with people and news today. That news people knows that the best way to manipulate a person is by using their emotions. If they blame a person for their hard times, even if that person didn’t do anything to cause it, they’ll believe it. They also did it in the Vietnam War.”
“The Vietnam War?” Ethan said. “How so?”
“You remember the Ted Offensive?” Chris said.
“Ah, yes,” I said. “The turning point of the war.”
“What about that battle?” Ethan said.
“Those news people,” the anthro coyote said, “Claimed that the battle was a completed defeat to us.”
“That I know is a lie,” I said. “We, militarily, won that battle. The North Vietnamese and their Vietcong may have held a few building for some time, they weren’t able to keep them and by the end of the day they were defeated.”
“But they lied,” Chris said. “Because of their lies, the opinions of war turned from for it to against it. In the end, we’ve lost the Vietnam War not by bullets, but by news.”
“True,” I said. “But the whole war was run by stupid people who thought they could win by fighting their enemies to a stalemate. So we would’ve lost either way, the timing would’ve been different.”
“How so?” Chris said. “How was it run by idiots?”
“I’ll way it so that an illogical person would have to agree with me,” I said. “Let’s say that you’re South Vietnam any I’m North Vietnam and you’ve drawn you line as your border that separates us. I cross over to your side and punch you. You can punch me back, as long as I’m within your side. Once I’ve cross over to my side, you can’t punch me.”
“That’s a stupid rule,” Chris said. “I don’t care about that border line; you’ve crossed over that line to hit me first so I have every right to cross it and retaliate.”
“Yet that was how we fought in that war,” I said. “Whether it was by news or not, we still would’ve lost that war.”
“I,” Chris said, “see your point.”
“You seen to know a lot about the Vietnam War,” Ethan said to me.
“My aunt was in the war as a field nurse,” I said. “So I got some details of the war from her.”
“A relative of yours was in the war?” Anna said.
“Yeah,” I said. “She was one of the many.”
“What do you mean by ‘one of the many’?” Anna said.
“I meant by one of the many Virtus who joined the military,” I said. “My family usually joined the army, especially in times of war. Maybe there was one who fought in the Crusades. I’m pretty much expected to join when the time comes.”
“Wow,” Anna said. “That’s truly patriotic of your family.”
“Yeah,” I said embarrassingly, “But it’s not like my family actually fought in combat. My grandfather was set to go in WWII, but it ended before he fought in a battle and, in the Korean War, he was just a trainer. As for my dad, he checks the nuclear power in his ship.”
“Oh,” Anna said.
“Like I said,” Chris said continuing on with his story, “the news was always filled with lies and always will, yet my parents believe them. Even all of those recent ones. I just want to knock some sense into them."
“That’s the end of my story,” Chris said. “Who wants to go next?”
“He’ll go,” both Kyler and I said in union.
“How do we settle this problem?” Karson said.
“Rock, paper, scissor?” Jon suggested to Kyler and I.
“Ok,” I said.
“Very well,” Kyler said.
We faced each other for our game. We got our hands/paws ready and we both said while hitting our fist onto our open palm hand, “Rock, paper, scissor!”
When we said, “Scissor,” I put my hand in the rock position while Kyler, unfortunately, have his hand in the scissor position, making me the winner.
“Two out of three?” Kyler said.
“Sorry, but no,” I said.
“Darn,” Kyler said. "I don’t really want to talk about myself.”
“Just do your best,” Anna said.
Kyler gave a big sighed and said, “My name is Kyler Sapien and I am the shyish type of person.”
“You didn’t act shy earlier,” Tim said.
“Maybe it’s because of those chocolate bars,” Kyler said. “I don’t really like to talk to other people, except to my parent and Daren here.”
“You two have some history together?” Ethan said. “Could you tell us about it?”
“Kyler and I met in preschool years ago,” I said. “He was alone and I gave him some companionship. Throughout these years we were as close as brothers to our parents and teachers. We have similar interests, like in video games and stuff.
“Then, five years ago, at sixth grade, my parents, after that school year had ended, transfer me to ALPS. They wished for me to have a good education, even if it means leaving Kyler behind. But we do meet occasionally. I got to say that you haven’t change throughout the years.”
“Yeah, well,” Kyler said, “I think you changed too much, especially since two years ago. Before then, you would drown yourself in video games, but now you would drown yourself in your computer, while occasionally play video games.”
“Perhaps,” I said.
“People would always think that I’m brilliant,” Kyler said.
“Yeah,” I said. “You always were able to memorize every single word you’ve read or heard and when you feel that something’s wrong, you’re usually right.”
“But,” Kyler said, “I’m wrong. I’m always wrong.”
“What are you talking about?” I said. “Your answers are the ones that are usually correct.”
“It’s not how I don’t have the right answer to a problem,” Kyler said. “Its how I’m wrong in person. Do you see any disorders in me?”
We all looked at Kyler. Five fingers in each hands/paw, five toes in each feet/paw. Other than the fact that he’s an anthro grey wolf, there are no visible disorders.
I said to Kyler, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“That’s because it’s not a physical disorder,” the anthro wolf said. “You guys think that disorders are always something about messed up faces, extra or missing fingers, or even missing limbs. But this disorder I have is actually a mental disorder. It’s called asperger syndrome. Ever heard if it?”
“You have asperger syndrome?” I said.
“Yes,” Kyler said. “You’ve heard of it?”
“I did a paper on it for psychology,” I said. “Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.”
“So your shyness,” Anna said, “was more than just shyness.”
“Yes,” Kyler said.
“But you never acted like you have asperger syndrome,” I said. “In fact, I’ve never given a thought that you’re one.”
“Like that disguise,” Kyler said. “It’s so perfect; I’ve fooled even myself for years.”
“Hold it,” Ethan said. “You didn’t know about you disorder ‘till recently?”
“I’ve always thought that the reason I’ve stay away from people and their groups was because I’m shy,” Kyler said. “I’ve taken some classes that dealt with asperger syndrome, but I’ve always thought that I was in it so I can deal with my shyness. It’s wasn’t ‘till last year that I’ve discovered the truth. I’ve taken a look at my school files and I’ve found out that I have asperger syndrome. I didn’t know what that word meant ‘till I’ve gotten home and researched it.”
“How did you felt when you’ve found out?” the anthro jackal said.
“I’ve felt hurt that I’m socially impaired and didn’t know about it,” the anthro wolf said. “My dad, my teachers, they all knew about it and didn’t tell me? I’ve felt betrayed by those that are close to me.”
"But I didn't know 'till you told me right now," I said.
"I know," Kyler said. "You were just as in the dark as I was. I know you won't betrayed me because you're my greatest friend. I know you would tell me this if you knew."
"Wait a minute," Karson said. "You've only mention your dad. What about your mom? Does she know?"
"I don't know," the anthro wolf said. "I can only guess on that question. But I think she know."
"Why don't you ask her yourself?" the anthro grey fox said.
"It's," Kyler said, "not that simple."
"What do you mean?" I said
"It's something that I didn't told you about," Kyler said, the tears forming on his eyes. "It's something I couldn't told you about. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"Didn't tell me what?" I said.
"My parents," Kyler said, "are divorce."
"What?!" Anna and I said at the same time.
"Sorry?" Ethan said.
"You mean?" Chris said.
"I'm so sorry, Daren," Kyler said. "You said it yourself; we were as close as brothers years ago. Yet I couldn't tell you what had happened at first grade. I'm so, so sorry, Daren."
"What happened?" Anna said.
"My mom," Kyler said, now the tears rolling down his cheeks, "was a brilliant person. When she went to college, she was the top in her class. She met my dad and they married a year later. They later have a son, which's me, and it seems like everything's well.
"But, as the years goes by, my mom life has gotten very stressful for her. She was working twenty hours a day for five days a week. It was too hard on her. So, she did the unthinkable. She took drugs to relieve the stress in her life, but as the result, she'd changed. She's no longer the person she once was.
"My mom had gone to court several times, but the judge was merciful and gave her a chance to break the drug habits. But she always go back to her habits. My dad did, and still do, love her, he knew that she would only gave me an bad environment for me to grow up in. So he have no choice but to divorce her just as she was sent to the rehabilitation center."
"What happened to her afterwards?" Ethan said.
"While I was in third grade, my mom was finally sent to prison for her habits. She left when I was in fourth grade and I've never seen her again. The last time I've heard of her, she was in Mexico with a new husband."
Kyler then turned to me and, with tears still going down, said, "Daren, I'm sorry for not telling you this. I've always wanted to tell you, hoping that you can help me, give me suggestions on what to do, but I never did 'till now. Can you forgive me?"
I've been silent for the whole story he had told, trying to sort out the facts. He look at me with those sad, teary eyes, upset about not asking me, his closest companion, for all these. While I admit that I'm hurt about this 'cause, like he said, I would help him if he did told me, I understand why he couldn't told me. It's because I know that same feeling.
"Kyler," I said. "I forgive you."
Kyler smiled to me and said, "Thank you."
Kyler then wiped away the tears from face and said to the others, "That's the end of my story so it's your turn, Daren."
'Great,' I thought.
"What's your story Daren?" Chris said.
"What's there to tell," I quickly said without thinking. "My life's fairly open, so you all know what I'm going to tell."
"I don't," Chris said.
"True," Anna said.
"You don't have to tell all of your life," Jon suddenly said. "You can just tell us what happened two years ago."
"I told you so many times already Jon," I said with a hint of anger, "and my answer will not change! Nothing happened!"
"It's interesting," the anthro jackal said. "You've changed a great deal, yet you said nothing happened. I don't believe that."
"It's true," Ethan said. "You had changed significantly Daren. You were once a great student with an 3.3 average, but now you've let that slipped down."
"Until two years ago, you've asked us to come to your house," Tim said. "Now, you hardly asked us now."
"You didn't go to our retreats and morning prayers before two years ago," Karson said. "But now you've go, as if something had happened."
"And I did said earlier that you used to play video games before two years ago," Kyler said. "Now you just go on the computer and read stories."
"All of these things suggested that you've retreated into yourself and become more private," Jon said. "If you just reveal what happened we could-"
"Stop it!" I said, clearly angry. "How many times do I have to tell you? Nothing had happened!"
"Daren," Anna suddenly said, "you're hiding something, aren't you?"
"W-what!?" I said.
"I can see it inside you," Anna said. "The chains and locks that binds onto your heart. They look so cold, so hard, and so deeply within you, clinging onto that secret. It's to the point that it's hurting you."
'Did those chocolate bars actually enhance her ability to see secrets a person's hiding?' I thought.
"So tell us," Anna said. "What's hurting you inside? We're your friends, so we'll understand. Alright?"
I didn't counter her argument. How could I, since they're completely true? I don't really understood her abilities to sensed a person secrets, if they have any, but she always gets it right. It must be fitted that she would be the one that would convinced me to revealed the truth. I guess it's time for me to revealed it, after holding it off for two long, painful years.
I sighed and, resignedly, said, "Alright, I'll tell."
Everyone, except for Chris, who didn't really know me, are paying attention to me now, especially Jon, who's been nagging me for two years to talk.
I gave another sighed and said, "Well... two years ago... at April 6, 2009... my mom died."
Silence. Just pure silence. It's strange because if one got Ethan, Tim, and Jon in the same room, the talking will never stop if no one above them tells them to stop. Everyone that I'm looking at right now have a shocked and surprised look in their face, even Chris have one. Jon's especially shocked about this information, maybe because he expected another explanation on what had happened.
After a few seconds, I said, "Might as well tell you the full story, which started five months before her death.
"It started when my mom seemingly has a cold, but, unlike the other times when she got the cold, which would last a couple of days, this one was persistence. Though she tried to deny it, we, my dad, sister, and I, knew it was something more serious than the cold. It became obvious when it still remained at Christmas time.
"She was stubborn about things like this, but my dad was just as persistence and, after a couple of months, she finally admitted that it was more than just a 'cold' and agree to visit the hospital when dad promised to be more active around the house and help with the household chores more. As the time went on, with the doctors trying to learn what's wrong with her, my mom gradually gotten worse. She had been getting backaches and would had dad rubbed her back to feel better. She would drink grapefruit, which would somehow ease the pain. And her stomach had been expanding, but not due to pregnancy.
"It wasn't 'till March that we heard from the doctors what was wrong with her. She had lungs cancer, but this type was unusual. 'Normal' cancer would just grow and grow and grow, but these remained small, but no less deadly. They traveled down from the lungs to the liver, doing damaged. This caused the liver to expanded, thus making her stomach expanded. By the end our spring break, she was at the hospital, ready to take treatment.
"The doctors plan was to gave her chemotherapy while injecting her the medicines for the liver. They had thought they had calculated the correct amount of both to help her live. But... they were wrong.
"At April 5, while cleaning up the house, as a dirty one's unhealthy for someone who had been treated for chemo, that had called us... that my mom liver had failed... and she was dying. We had never cried as much before that called and never as much two days later.
"We were with mom as she was dying to give her some comfort for a great deal of the night before we have to leave. I remember that she kept saying, "Oh God, help me." We returned the next morning and all she did was groan in pained. She was moved to the Hospice to gave her more comfort in her final hours. By that time her relatives that was able to come were there with us. She then died with her family and friends around her at April 6, 2009 at 3:10 PM."
That's the end of my sad story; the story that I was hiding for two long years. Everyone there was silenced, with shocked looks on their faces.
Anna then said, "Was it an surprise that she had gotten cancer?"
"In a way, no," I said. "My mom always did smoke at least a couple of cigarettes' a day, so it was only fitting that she had gotten lungs cancer. Also, her side of the family usually died of some type of cancer related problem, so that would also make it more appropriate that she did too."
"She was special to you," Anna said, "wasn't she?"
"Yes she was," I said. "She was... the only one that could be able to open me up completely. When you guys said that I used to asked you all to come over to my house, it was because mom encourage me to do it. Also, she doesn't take what I had wrote and make rude remarks like my dad did, even if they were sarcastic. She would encourage me to write better."
"Did anyone else at school knew what had happened?" Anna said.
"The teachers knew, since Mrs. B had been told of what's going on and when my sister and I wasn't at school that day and the day after, she realized what had happened. The other students, like Ariel and Mandy also figured out what had happened."
"Daren," Jon suddenly said. "I'm sorry. I thought that you were doing something else, like ditching school or something and I wanted an confession, not an sad story."
"Jon," I said as I stood up. "Stand up please."
"Daren?" Jon said. He stood up and walked around the table to me. "If you're going to hit me, that's fine."
"Jon," I said. I slowly walked towards him and suddenly hugged him.
"Daren?!" Jon said with an shocked tone in his voice. "What are you-"
"It's me that should be sorry, not you," I said. "I... wanted to talk to someone about it, not just my family, but... I didn't. You are my friend and I'm sorry for not telling you."
I let go of Jon and faced the others there. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
The others, including Chris walk up to me and Kyler said, "Daren, I forgive you, like you've forgiven me."
"We forgive you," Anna said as she walked up to me and hugged me. "We all forgive you."
Here's the second of the five parts of Fines Malum. Enjoy.