This one was shorter than expected, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Gives you the ability to shapeshift into any animal.
You feel worms under your skin.
You want to cut it open and tear them out, press them between your fingers and crush every last one, and scratch until every last trace of them is scraped clean. Once you were in hospital for chronic gut pain and for two weeks you were pain and pain was you and you knew you were alive because you were in pain. Pain lives in the core, demanding pressure, arousing a yearning to compress yourself, to spiral inward like an armadillo tighter and tighter until you push through and unfurl, inverted and pain-free. But an itch lives on the surface, demanding exfoliation, arousing a segregating instinct to peel yourself infinitesimal layer by infinitesimal layer until there is no more surface for the itch to embed itself.
Right now you are both core and surface. Pain in the core and itch on the surface. The research team never told you; they couldn’t have. The miraculous manipulative methods of genetics can transform you into anything you like but it can’t tell you what it feels like. You are a pupa, transformation manifest, static death outside and roiling life inside.
This part doesn’t surprise you all that much. You figured things probably didn’t happen like in the books and movies. If it did, the world would be so much more interesting. All transformative changes take place in stages, hidden from any naked eye. Transfigurations in sacred places.
What surprises you is the excruciating slowness of things. Within the shell night merges into day, sleep merges into wakefulness, a pulsing oscillation between awareness and unawareness. Without a pulse to mark intervals by, time stretches to an imperceptible expanse, an infinity made countable by separate, discrete events, pulsing sparks of light like an ocean at night.
Your long sleep of inexistence is coming to an end. Consciousness punctures the night’s shell, beams bursting forth, arcing over the surface on invisible wings to land on blinking eyelids. Taking one last deep, pupal breath, you announce your rebirth with one awesome stretch of your new corporal vessel. Your feathers stretch out to their limits filling all space, and where their efforts are exhausted your voice continues the intention.
Maybe next time you’ll pick something simpler.