• Published 12th May 2013
  • 2,568 Views, 153 Comments

Summer break, with much at stake. - My little pedagogue

A high school teacher and a lab technician undergo some alarming changes. A "Five Score, Divided by Four" side fiction.

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Chapter Four: Wait... It gets worse?

Sharon took some convincing, but I had eventually persuaded her to stop over at my house for the night. Until we had some semblance of clarity of what was happening to us, it was best we stayed together to offer support to each other in anticipation of further changes.

That was the reason I gave to Sharon anyway. Her choice to name me Cheerilee, seemingly without realising she’d done so was troubling. That dream was my own, and she had no way of knowing unless she had experienced something similar.

The dream… it was linked to the hair, and the tattoo. My changes weren’t just physical, I realised I was beginning to think differently too. My musical episode at the bus station was so out of character, it could be… no, it was probably linked.

I still had no solid causal proof yet, and that was so frustrating. Scientists require solid evidence to explain our observations. We can’t function on gut feeling and speculation alone.

I locked my front door as soon as Sharon and I were through the threshold. Finally, we could speak. The cab journey had passed in agonising silence, as we couldn’t discuss our situation in earshot of the driver. “Make yourself at home, I’ll change the bed sheets for you.” I motioned Sharon towards the couch, and hit the power on the TV as I passed across the living room.

“Excuse me?” Sharon’s tone was challenging. “You’re not giving up your bed, I hope?” I knew a rhetorical question when I heard one.

I also knew when to answer rhetorical questions as a regular one “actually, yes. That’s what I’m doing. Consider it a birthday present.”

Sharon planted herself on the couch in a huff. “This isn’t over Carl”

I stripped the bed and deposited the old sheets into my linen bin. The task was a welcome distraction, and gave me time to think.

Ok brain, what do you have for me? This isn’t just a hallucination.

The hell should I know? Do you want to fall back on that wizard hypothesis?

Don’t you have anything a little more… science-ish?

Gimme a sec… how about… Somatic cell gene therapy?

Unlikely… someone would have to be decades ahead of current research to pull alterations like this off, and current adenovirus or liposome vectors wouldn’t be able to affect so much of my body at once… changes like this would require stem cells… and probably some invasive implantation procedures.

Well fuck you too! Don’t ask for some science to explain batshit insane phenomena, and then complain that all the dots aren’t nicely connected.

Ok, sorry brain. Take five… I think we need some time to relax.

I finished redressing my bed and headed back into the living room. Sharon had picked a bottle of 2016 Chilean merlot off my rack and was pouring out a couple of glasses. I sighed in defeat. No point in trying to talk her out of it. A quick glance at the clock revealed it was only eleven thirty. “Not even midnight. Sorry if it wasn’t the evening you were hoping for, Berry”

Sharon’s focus shot up from her glass as she narrowed her eyes “what did you call me?”

“What? I said Sharon…” I raised my hands, taken aback by the tone of Sharon’s voice

“No you didn’t! You called me berry!” Sharon shot back accusingly “you called me berry before all this started! You knew about this before now!” she took a long swig from her glass.

“Well you called me Cheerilee as we were leaving fab!” I snapped, angry at the insinuation that I was responsible. “How’d you dig up that little nugget of information?”

“I… I didn’t! And who the hell is Cheerilee?” Sharon placed down her glass and balled her fists.

I didn’t break eye contact, this may a misunderstanding, but I still don’t appreciate being talked to like this “right back at you Sharon! I’ve never called you Berry, and I have no idea who Berry is.” I don’t soften my words. I need to be firm to get this across before our anger escalates. “We can choose to believe the other is responsible, or we can assume that there is something changing in our heads too.”

Sharon opens her mouth to reply, and chooses to instead to sink back into the couch and drain her wine glass. “Shit… what’s happening to us?”

I took up a place on the couch next to Sharon, and snatched up the spare wine glass, taking a sizeable gulp. “So… I can tell you who Cheerilee is, if you tell me about Berry?” I wasn’t planning on breaking this to Sharon tonight, but it looks like the proverbial has already hit the fan.

Sharon didn’t bother to look up at me this time, instead electing to shake her head as if it might dislodge any unwelcome thought currently taking root. “I don’t wanna talk about it right now, I’m guessing you’re angling to know if I’ve had any strange dreams?”

“I won’t ask you to share if they were unpleasant… Cheerilee was in a bad way when I woke up this afternoon…” the memory of the encounter with discord flooded back, and I was overwhelmed with concern…

The concern wasn’t for myself… dammit! The concern wasn’t for Cheerilee, but for those three fillies… no! I was concerned about those three kids! Dammit brain! Get a hold of the language centre and find out what’s going on!

Everything’s my fault today, isn’t it?

“You ok? Carl?” Sharon’s image was swaying in front of me, trying to get my attention… “You zoned out for a sec there…”

I grimace in an effort to dispel the feeling that my sanity was fast leaving me “it’s just the drink… I think talking about it with a skin full is a bad idea… we were about ready to tear strips off each other a moment ago” I lean over to hug Sharon. She startles for a moment before accepting the gesture “Sharon, whatever happens to us, I would never do anything to hurt you, and I trust you completely… whatever’s responsible for… all this… it isn’t either of us” I give Sharon another squeeze to punctuate my appeal for her trust.

“I know Carl, I just got scared, you know, lashed out in fear. I trust you man…” Sharon hugged back.

“Go to bed. I’m taking the couch. No arguments.” It was a cheap ass method to get my way, but I knew Sharon wouldn’t argue after this saccharine moment.

Sharon stood and staggered slowly to the bedroom “try not to dream…” she called back as she shut the door.

She had to say it, didn’t she?


My vision blurred and intermittently left me before painfully returning again. I was able to rely on my sight very little. My other senses fared little better. My tongue and nose were overwhelmed by the taste and smell of blood. My ribs burned as I was jostled onto somepony’s back before a slow and ginger pace was adopted.

I had no idea of where I was being taken, or by whom… but I had to tell them “discord… he’s after the fillies… the clu… the clu…” I lost count of how many times I lost consciousness, only for it to painfully return.

“try not to move Cheerilee, you must be hurting like hell, I’m gonna get you something for the pain” the voice is familiar, but I’m in no shape for my memory to connect the dots…

“The fillies… he’s after them… please… help” I tried to be more specific, but forcing out agonised babblings proved to be a herculean effort in itself.

I couldn’t help anyone like this…

I’d failed them.


I stirred from my couch and stretched… the dream this time was thankfully nonspecific. I didn’t want to be troubled by too many developments all at once. Hell, my nerves were shot to shit enough already.

I paced into the kitchen on the balls of my feet… why am I on tiptoes? I willed my heels onto the floor, but it just feels wrong. Admitting defeat, I allowed my new muscle memory to take over as I inspected the contents of the fridge.

Bacon? No thanks… sliced turkey? Nope… Scotch egg bites? Ugh! What was I thinking?

“Sharon? Do you want anything from the corner shop? I’m gonna go get some food…” I called through to the bedroom.

I heard movement from my room as Sharon grumbled herself out of bed… “Gimme a sec…”

I returned to the front room from the kitchen to see Sharon emerge. We locked gazes and simultaneously froze in place.

I was stunned into silence… regarding Sharon’s dumbstruck expression, I realised she was seeing the same thing. I slowly raised my right hand to my head, dismayed to see Sharon mirroring my actions… my hand hovered over my ear, afraid to close the distance any further and confirm my fears. Sharon’s face told me all I needed to know, and as my ear flicked in irritation at this revelation, it brushed my fingers, causing my hand to flinch away, and my tail to lash in shock.

Wait… what!?!

Sharon’s cries are stifled as her hands clamped over her mouth. Terrified eyes widened and focussed on my hips, or what was situated behind them. I inspected Sharon more closely, and indeed, confirmed she had a plum coloured extension to her spine, swaying behind her in autonomous animation.

I’ve not even been up five minutes, and I already wanted to call this off as a bad job and go back to bed.

But would I even wake up as myself?

… I feel sick…