Chapter 4: Road Rage
Being locked under girlfriend-mandated house arrest was no major change to my life. The only real difference was having a new distraction; fiddling around with my new powers. Spending every night with Liz fed me enough that I could maintain human form for most of the day, but it also let me use my magic. I could only use it as Chrysalis, though, so if I wanted to, say, levitate the remote from the far side of the living room over to me I had to drop my human guise.
I found the basement to be an ideal place for practicing magic. I would spend hours mindlessly flinging boxes around, and once I learned how to fire blasts, I used the empty boxes like skeet shot targets, flinging them into the air and turning them into dust. I also had a great deal of fun taking on the form of people other than my original self, such as turning into Morgan Freeman and narrating my trips to the bathroom. A less ethical man(?) than I would abuse this power much like Chrysalis did in the Royal Wedding episodes, and, truth be told, it was a little difficult to resist ‘dressing up’ and messing with folks.
I also found that, while it was much more difficult and love-consuming, I could change into objects. I assumed that the greater the difference between a different form and my changeling form, the much more strenuous it was for me. If I changed the look of my mane, I could do it no problem. It felt good to work out these little details while Liz was either at school or working at the diner in town.
Despite the fun side of this transformation, I was still eager to get back to normal. I had absolutely no leads, though, and remaining a changeling queen was becoming more and more likely. Liz said she’d keep an eye out for anyone who was absent in classes, on the off-chance whatever was happening was a local thing and they, too, opted to stay home to get used to their new hooves.
It was on May 3rd that I could finally get out of the house again. I was practicing the art of playing LA Noire 2 Co-op by myself, levitating both controllers when Liz came barging through the door. Her abrupt entrance didn’t surprise me so much that she was home two hours early from the diner. She looked ready to smash anything at arm's length, her fists clenched and her breathing heavy. Her white shirt was stained with ketchup.
“Whoa, whoa…” I said, trying to calm her down and making to stand up like a human. I remembered too late I was still Chrysalis and, a second after trying to stand on my hind legs, promptly face-planted on the floor. I returned to human form, stood up and saw Liz sitting at the kitchen table, her head in her hands. I walked over and put my hand on her shoulder. “What’s up?”
“I got fired today…” Liz said harshly, grinding her teeth.
“Uh oh…” I said, pulling a chair beside her. “Wanna talk about it?”
Liz suddenly banged the table with her fist, making me jump. “It was Dane! That fucking asshole got me canned!!”
I furrowed my brow. Liz had dumped Dane a good three months before we’d met. He was the absolute zenith of douche-baggery, a drunk daddy’s boy whose father ran a sizeable, ‘respectable’ mining corporation, Seismic. Dane took his father’s wealth for granted, calling him up every time he was arrested for drunk driving; you’re probably asking, ‘how often did he drunk-drive?’ The better question is, ‘how often is he sober?’ The local cops seemed eager to put Dane away for reasons money couldn’t buy him out of, but even Dane was smart enough to know where to draw the line… at least in the public eye. “What happened?” I asked.
Liz took a breath. “I was finishing serving this family when I heard Dane enter the restaurant with a couple of his buddies, they’d clearly been drinking. Dane greeted me like I was a friend and they sat down in the far corner. I could hear them guffawing from the fucking kitchen, and the other customers were clearly getting annoyed as well. What’s more, I could hear Dane talking about me; he was saying how he dumped me, how I was sleeping my way through school… I begged Terry not to make me serve him, but I had no choice; everyone else was busy. So I took their orders, having to put up with Dane’s snide remarks the whole way through… Then I turned around and I felt one of them grab my ass!”
At some point I’d turned back into Chrysalis, baring my teeth and causing my horn to glow brightly. “What happened next?” I growled.
Liz seemed a bit invigorated that someone else was getting nearly as angry as her. “I swung around and I said to them, ‘Touch me again and you idiots won’t have much reason to laugh, got it?’ But they just kept laughing and I walked away. Terry went into his office, and…” She stopped and groaned. “I should have just talked to him then, told him that they should be kicked out, but I was just so angry. I didn’t bother leaving the kitchen while their food was being cooked, I couldn’t deal with them again. But when their food came I had no choice; the sooner I got them their food, the sooner they could leave.”
“So I brought the food out to them, Dane took his burger and said, ‘Hey, I said ‘no mustard’!’, even though I knew that was a fucking lie. Then he said, ‘It’s shit like this that’s why you’re working in a diner you stupid bimbo!’ Then he threw the burger at my shirt,” she motioned to the ketchup stain. “Then I lost it. I grabbed his friends’ plates and smashed his face with them. His friends laughed at him, he got pissed, then Terry showed up. They had a shouting match in the kitchen, then Terry came out, Dane was looking all smug, and…”
Her eyes filled with tears. I wrapped a foreleg around her shoulder. “It’s okay…” I said.
“No, it’s not okay!!” Liz said. “How do I get another job now? ‘Oh, I got fired from my last job cause I lost my temper with a customer and smashed his food in his face!’”
“Well, if you put it into proper context…” I began.
“Ugh, I’m just so… URGH!!” Liz stood up and threw her chair to the side. “I’m gonna take a shower.” She stomped into the bedroom and slammed the door. I stared sadly at the door before dropping my gaze to the floor. Dane was pretty much the most despicable guy you could ever know, and once again he’d found a way to make our lives difficult. The idea of him getting away with this shit made me grind my teeth.
I had to make him pay. And, looking at my hooves, it wasn’t hard to come up with a way. An idea came to mind that made a grin of pure malevolence spread across my face. I changed form.
- - - - -
At 1am, when Liz had went into a grumbling sleep, I crept out of bed and left the house for the first time in a couple days. Tonight was as good a way to teach myself how to fly, I figured as I wavered dizzyingly through the Augusta night sky. Liz had given me a general idea of where Dane lived, and even though I didn’t have an exact address, I just had to look out for his familiar, “yolo-swagilicious” BMW. Dane lived in a small house near the Kennebec, under some pretense of wanting to look humble. I stuck to the clouds, praying it was dark enough that no passing planes could see me, and scanned every house in the area for the Douche-Mobile.
There; it was painted gold, had mirror-like rims on the tires, and horrendous decals. It was definitely Dane’s car, parked in that driveway; despite having a perfectly good garage, Dane seemed to park his car out front so everyone in the neighborhood could see it. I smiled; if everyone saw it, then everyone would know whose car it was when I followed through on my plan. Even though it was stupidly late I kept triple-checking for passing cops or nightowls before descending from the night sky and landing in the backyard of Dane’s property. I took human form, giving myself black attire to better blend in, and snuck up to the screen door.
I jiggled the handle; locked. Swearing, I peeked through the curtains. In the dim light I could barely make out the sleeping form of Dane, sitting in his pure leather recliner, several beer cans littering the floor around him. Liz had told me that a drunk, sleeping Dane was about as lively as an Easter Island Head, so waking him wouldn't be an issue. Getting in, however…
I looked down; Dane was using the old screen door method of blocking the sliding door with a long block of wood instead of a lock. I dropped my human guise and ducked to the side in case the flash of green flame woke Dane. When he didn’t move, I crept up to the door and lit up my horn. Just when I wondered if magic worked through windows, the block was enveloped in a green aura and lifted into the air. Carefully, I moved it to the side and placed it on the tiger-skin rug. I slid the door open, and slipped into the house.
The place was pretty much an exact replica of Bobby Pellit’s house from Horrible Bosses. Dane fancied himself an athlete, filling his place with exercise equipment so underused I could see a layer of dust an inch thick. The walls were lined with liquor cabinets, filled with drinks I knew Dane would never drink and only had to keep up his pretense of ‘class’. The only enviable decoration in his place was the entertainment system; on the wall he had a plasma-screen so wide I wondered if his dad had it custom designed for him. The speakers were about the size of a porta-potty and placed in the corners of the room. The TV was the only source of light in the room, playing a soccer game that Dane was probably too drunk to follow. I sneaked up to him, wincing with every deafening snore, until I was right by his side.
A wide variety of things I could do to him flooded my mind, each better than the last, but I did nothing to him; I didn't even draw a mustache on his face. No, my eyes fell on the table next to his chair. Amidst the beer cans were the keys to his car. Grinning evilly, I grabbed them in my magic and carefully lifted them up. I made to turn when I noticed something else. Get the hell out of here, I thought, fighting the urge to start cackling. A syringe was on the table, drained of its contents but clear in its purpose. I don’t know what the idiot was taking, but whatever it was couldn’t have been looked too kindly upon by the law. I took the syringe and tip-hoofed out of the room. Once outside I slid the screen door closed, replaced the block through the glass and took human form. I hurried around the side of his house and to his car.
I unlocked the car door and clambered inside. The car smelled like weed, beer, cigarette smoke and pure, unadulterated dickhead. Gagging, I popped the windows to air out the car a little bit, and tossed the syringe into the passenger seat. You only need to do this for a little bit… I told myself as I started the car. The engine roared to life; I realized that, if Dane heard his car starting, he’d report it as stolen if I drove off. I looked back at his house. After a few tense minutes and no activity from his living room, I let out a sigh of relief.
“Okay…” I said, closing my eyes and concentrating. A sensation of warmth, and I opened them again. In the rearview, Dane looked back at me. I grinned, but then looked down. I was still wearing my black outfit. “Nah, too modest…” I said. The clothes vanished and I was in tighty-whities. “Lovely… Wait, hang on, that’s a bit generous.” A slight ‘size’ adjustment. “Much better. Okay…” I grabbed the wheel with one hand and put the car into ‘drive’ with the other. “Let’s see daddy-dearest buy you out of this, twat-basket.”
I sped out of Dane’s driveway; I went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. I sped down the street and towards Water Street. I cranked on the radio and played the shit rap Dane had made, rolling the windows down to share his ‘art’ with everyone in earshot. When I heard the first siren, I smiled. I floored it and, making sure there wasn’t anyone on the sidewalk, I swerved off the road and plowed through a stop sign. The impact was heavier than I’d anticipated; I suspected that GTA and Saint’s Row lied to me. I kept going, plowing through more and more signs until I spotted blinking red and blue lights in my rear-view. “Perfect,” I said before swerving off the street and towards the park.
As I’d hoped, the park was completely empty, so I could do as I pleased. I plowed through the fence and through several park benches, my maniacal cackles barely audible over Dane’s repeated “Uh”s and “Bitch”s booming from the radio. I looked in the rear-view; there were at least three cop cars closing the distance behind me. I drove madly around the park, planning to attract as many cops as possible before finding a nice place to ditch the car, drop the Dane disguise and walk down the street whistling nonchalantly. A cop car sped up along my right side as I made my third lap around the park. “Pull over!!” The cop screamed, his voice somehow carrying over Dane’s godawful rhythm.
I cackled. “Fuck da poe-leece!!” I yelled back, part of me feeling annoyed at having Dane’s voice. I smashed into the cop, careful so as not to hurt him but hard enough to deal damage to the car. I spun the wheel to the left and pulled on the handbrake. The tires squealed like irate pigs as I spun to the left. I slammed the accelerator and sped past the surprised cops. I could make out five more cars speeding into the park. “Lovely,” I said. “I seem to have gotten their--”
There was a sixth car I didn’t notice, speeding from the left. He slammed into me, causing me to spin out and slamming the left side of the car into a three-foot thick poplar tree. “Fuck!” I yelled; I hadn’t planned for if the cops had caught me. I slammed the gas, but the car merely sputtered at me with an air of ‘what the fuck, man.’ Cops were getting out of their cars and sprinting up to me. Shit shit shitshitshitshitshit!! I thought, trying to open the door which was kept shut, pinned against the tree. The cops swung the passenger door open, some of them drawing their guns.
“Get out of the car!!” One of them roared. “Get out of the car right now!!” I pulled my feet back and only thought to kick out the windows just as one of the cops reached in and grabbed my bare feet. I was dragged out of the car and onto the ground. I was scared; this was a stupid idea. Either I’d go to jail disguised as Dane for several years, or I’d drop the disguise, be revealed as a shape-shifting freak… and still go to jail for several years, assuming I wasn't carted off to some government facility. I needed a way out of this.
“We got something here!” A cop yelled, picking the metal bits of the now-shattered syringe off the car floor. “Felt a bit unstoppable tonight, did you, buddy?” I was lifted not-too-gently off the ground and my hands were forced behind my back. I felt the cold metal of handcuffs snap around my wrists.
“What’s your name?” Another cop asked.
“Dane Halford,” I said instantly, trying to look drunk even though I’d never been, or even seen a drunk guy in my life. I needed to keep this act up to shift the blame on to him, or all this would have been for nothing… If it wasn’t, already.
“Dane Halford!” A cop yelled, familiarity in his voice. “Glad to see you stepped up your game, son! We got tired of watching your daddy pay for your little god complex. Get him to the car.” I was pushed towards a cop car and shoved into the back seat. The car smelled like it had seen its fair share of drunks being brought in. The cop who pushed me in turned around and walked back towards the wrecked BMW.
Now was my chance. I checked that no one was looking, dropped to the floor of the car and dropped my Dane guise. The cuffs broke off of my hooves and clattered to the floor. I peeked over the front seat and spotted the door locks on the driver-side door. I used my magic and pressed the button. The back doors unlocked; I cast another glance at the cops outside. They were still searching Dane’s car or chatting amongst themselves. I ducked down and carefully opened the far door, wincing as it popped open loudly. I climbed out of the car, not bothering to close the door, and flew up into the branches of a nearby tree. I looked down and watched as one of the cops finally looked at the car.
“He’s gone!!” He yelled, drawing the attention of every cop present.
“Find him, now!!” Another one yelled. “Call it in, I want him found within the hour!!”
“Dispatch, we need an APB on one Dane Halford…” I heard one of them saying into their radio. I had to resist the urge to laugh. They'd check his house and find the idiot passed out in his recliner. He'd have a hell of a time telling his dad he was innocent when the cops would state for a fact that they saw Dane Halford GTA-ing his way through town. Spreading my wings, I flew less-than-gracefully into the Augusta night.
- - - - -
I watched from my window as the black and green form flew off into the night. They thought they were invisible in the night sky, but even in the darkness I could see its equine features.
A sense of hope flooded my heart; I wasn’t alone in this.
- - - - -
I carefully closed the front door, my normal human guise restored, and crept into the kitchen. I winced with every creak in the floorboard as I headed towards the bedroom. So long as Liz was still asleep, even if she heard what had happened tonight I could still deny--
A light clicked on the living room. I slowly turned to see Liz sitting in the recliner, her arms folded and eyes filled with pure anger. “Where were you?”
I was silent; denying anything was out of the question. “Out,” I said simply.
“Yeah, out,” I said. “Just needed some fresh air.”
“You were gone for an hour and a half.”
Fuck. “Well, uh…”
“What were you doing?”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “Liz, I’ve been cooped up in here--”
“That wasn’t a problem for you.” Liz said. “Anyway, that’s not what I meant. What did you do out there?”
I rubbed the back of my head. “...Would it be good if I said I was doing something I figured would make you happy?”
Liz’s glare intensified. “Not particularly, no.”
I sighed. “I kinda… screwed Dane over.”
“How so?” Liz asked.
“I kinda… got him in trouble with the cops…” I said, the stupidity of my plan looking more and more clear with each word. “I snagged his car, disguised myself as him, got the cops really pissed, then ran for it…” Liz stood up off the chair. For a moment, she was still.
Then she walked up and slapped me across the face. “You fucking idiot!!” She yelled. “You could have gotten arrested, discovered, even killed!! And for what? For revenge?!”
“I know, I know!!” I yelled. “I realized how stupid it was when it looked like I wouldn’t get away!”
“You think this is a game?!” Liz yelled. “You should be trying to hide this, to fix it, but instead you’re playing with it and abusing it!! I can’t believe you’d be so stupid about this!!” I avoided her gaze; I really had nothing to say, the argument was clearly one-sided. Liz shook her head. “I, I… I can’t do this.”
“What?” I looked up at her.
“I, I need some time, Chris…” Liz walked into the bedroom and shut the door. I walked up to the door and found it was locked. The light was still on in there, so I knew Liz hadn’t gone to bed.
“Liz?” I asked, knocking. No response. I spent a good couple minutes knocking before it opened again. Liz stood there, hastily dressed and carrying a…
“No, no, Liz, please…” I said, the stuffed suitcase making my heart sink. “Please, don’t…”
Liz walked right past me. “I love you, Chris, but I don’t know how I can help you if you’re not gonna take this seriously…” She walked towards the front door.
I felt an instinctive sense of panic. “Liz, wait!!” I cried. My human guise dropped and I cantered behind her. I grabbed her arm in my magic and tugged.
“Chris, stop it!” Liz said, tugging back.
“Please, don’t go!”
“Chris, you’re hurting me!!”
I dropped the magic. I’d hoped to never hear those four words from her, ever. I fell to my haunches and looked at my front hooves. For a moment, I felt as though I'd force her to...
I looked up at Liz, who was continuing towards the front door without a word. She looked back at me sadly one last time before turning and leaving the house.
I was alone.
A small twinge of hunger rang in my stomach.