etymology: Middle English, from Middle French progeniteur, from Latin progenitor, from progignere to beget, from pro- forth + gignere to beget —more at KIN
date: 14th century
1 : an ancestor in the direct line : (forefather) 2 : PRECURSOR, ORIGINATOR (progenitors of ideas)
© 2001 by Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
T H E M O R P H I S T
by Silva Noir
Chapter 20: pegasus
Grass blades of an amazingly average suburban backyard were being trampled by the one of the most unlikely of animals. The cheerful shimmering Pegasus counted off, "Left, right, left, right," in a voice more subdued than any drill sergeant.
The wings on her back were small, too small to be anything more than decoration. The flight feathers streamed away as stretched chewing gum, then as droplets of rain off a speeding vehicle into nothingness once she realized they were useless. Her progenitor hadn't told her how to do such a thing. As soon as the thought entered her mind that they were heavy and in the way if she couldn't fly with them, they'd dropped off. Only the shoulders and wing bars were left. Her mane and tail suffered much the same fate. Originally they were long and flowing individual 'hairs' or Xilvrin. As Xilvrin liked to stick to itself unless totally solid, they'd agglomerated in tight curls with upside down funnel bases up her neck and into an S-curved tail. Overall, her form was more petit, rounded and cute than the original Morphist would chose for himself.
She’d been trotting in a figure eight. The movement she made had been awkward and rusty and first. She found her feet quickly just as newborn spring fawn might. A stumble or two and wobbly legs was on the way. "It's like a bicycle," She made the practice turn a little faster this time than the last, "You get used to how to balance and how to go forward by riding. It’s not anything you can think. You feel your way. Only you ride ON the bicycle, not IN it."
"Just like I told you," the more angular mustang tossed his head in approval. "You're a quick learner."
"Well," she boasted, quite literally on her high horse, "I was always a very good student. Straight A's in every single subject. Next year I'm going to a private Catholic high school because I'm too good and too smart for public school," with that she tripped over her own legs.
"So smart you can't walk and talk at the same time?" He teased.
"Well, I’m smart enough to know to pick a Pegasus for my costume. I was talking about it with a girl that brought me my homework while I was out sick. Pegasus was born out of some scary chick with snakes for hair called Medusa. Some guy chopped off her head and out flew a Pegasus and he used it to ride and fly around on. When Pegasus died it became one of the constellations. So since it was your blood that did this to me, at night, when the stars were out…”
“But I’m not some chick with snakes for hair. And if any guy tried to chop of my head…” he was aware it was better to not finish that sentence in front of her. Instead he took a running leap over the six-foot wooden backyard fence.
“Wait up!” Melanie tried the same. BANG! Rattle! Having missed clearing it by quite a bit, she fell away, legs folded under her torso. Shaking it off, she unbolted the gate with her teeth instead. “Won’t people SEE us?”
“No, they’ll see two shiny horses, they won’t see US,” he pranced merrily on the sidewalk. “They have only seen one animal at one time. Two will really confuse them.” He broke into a gallop downhill.
“Hey wait!” Inside she moved her arms and legs to move the equine’s four. “I can’t run in these stilt things! I can barely walk!” She swaggered, thinking of how much more difficult it was to learn to do than rollerblade. This was like trying to rollerblade with a pair on your hands as well as your feet. “Gyah!” And like rollerblading once she came to the hill she went down it, out of control, full speed. “WuAAAAh!”
The Mustang paused to look back to see how she was doing. His mistake. She smashed into him with force enough to push them both into a telephone pole. Metal against metal sent out sparks. The wood splintered as much as the impact of a car would. Lucky for them it didn’t break all the way through or enough to drop.
Disentangling his limbs from her he admonished, “Baby steps. You’re new at this so you should take…” he huffed, rolling over and righting himself up, “…baby steps.”
“It was your idea to take practice out here in the first place!” She ached all over, not yet knowing how to minimize the transfer of feeling from the shell to her real body within. “Can we quit now?”
“No.” They weren’t far from the local park, so he asked, “Would you rather play on the playground, run some bases on the baseball field, or go ice skating at the rink?”
“Can’t we sit in the gazebo?”
“Skating it is!” He pressed the walk light for her with the horses nose. He didn’t like to wait and danced over the hoods of and vehicle that drove over the crosswalk to the other side. Like the hyperactive child he could be when in morph, he couldn’t resist plunging into the pile of snow true little kids were having a snowball fight with. The snow was really shavings the zambonie scraped off the ice, but neither he nor the tikes cared. Snow this close to summer had a special kind of magic for the young and young at heart. He was rolling in it. Flipping side to side and making a scooping motion with his front legs, he left the imprint of a two-headed horse angel. Stepping back and admiring his work he whinnied to Melanie who’d caught up by then, “A pegasus!”
“A siamese twin pegasus,” she eyed it sideways.
“Those are the best kind!” He tossed his head happily.
Tripping feet were part of a set of problems. Seeing in armor was like trying to focus through thick curved glass. The shapes and colors were there, but move your reference point and they wobbled like reflections in a funhouse mirror. He’d had to calm her for over and hour to stop her from thinking she’d drowned in the Xilvrin. She almost had once in the bottom of a pool and wouldn’t go near water since. Just like drowning, the more you struggled against Xilvrin, the more you feared it, the more harm it could do to you. It was essential she accepted what she’d become and since there was no cure for it. She had forced him to accept at least the physical part of himself. He wouldn’t let her be a hypocrite.
“Pony ride!” shouted a third party, swinging sneakers around the mustang’s midsection.
“Eh?” David closed the eye lenses from the correct place on the face and opened a new set on the back of the neck to see. A little boy who’d snuck on when he’d been playing in the snow pile shrieked. David knelt down to let the toddler off, then closed the wrong eyes and reopened the right ones. The brat returned to his older sibling, one of the snowball soldiers. David stamped a hoof, “I don’t like small children.”
Melanie was in a fit of giggles. “But they like you!”
“Until they find out I’m not coin operated.” He led her inside the actual rink. “You wait. You’ll be getting strange reactions from normal people all over the place too,” So far the only ones to notice them were the children. Their parents and babysitters dismissed the reports as great imaginations.
“I don’t feel the cold. Why don’t I feel the cold?” It’s freezing in here, it always is… but…” Their hooves made loud echoing clop-clops on the smooth cement floor.
“Insulation,” he explained. “The liquid Xilvrin coating on the inside it like a thermos, keeping you comfortably room temperature whether the weather is a Sahara or an Antarctic outside.”
“See, there are benefits, not just drawback to being a Morphist.”
“Do I have to call myself that?” she clicked her tongue.
“No… but… I invented it…” he was a little hurt that she didn’t take a liking to the term. “So what do you want to call yourself? What’s your superhero name?”
“I don’t know. You didn’t give me time to think of one. I just found out I have ‘powers’ today.”
They were detracting attention away from a high school hockey game. He grabbed a spare stick that was leaning against a bench in his jaw. Shifting hooves to blades he slid out to help the home team. Not that he knew how to play hockey… “FOUR!” he took a swing at the puck.
“And he’s supposed to be my teacher?” She wandered over to the bleachers, taking a seat with some confused friends of the players. She would much rather have observed from the sidelines, but he wouldn’t let her for long. With great enthusiasm he rounded her up and pushed her out onto the middle. She fell and spun in circles. He may have been Olympic in his grace, but she was as clumsy as the newborn Bambi. She had no choice of evading escape from the interrupted athletes. The masked adolescents netted her… in the goal net.
“I’ll save you!” dashingly, he kicked her captors aside and bit through the ropes. “Welcome to my everyday life. Had enough for today?” He said only loud enough for her to hear.
She nodded. They made a hasty retreat.
They hid in, of all places, St. Mary’s cemetery. Without prying eyes they could let the shields melt away. David leaned against a civil war’s widow’s gravestone. Melanie preferred to stand out of respect for the dead. He put forth the question, “Where do you think it comes from? Xilvrin that is…”
“You mean you don’t know?”
“All I know is that it doesn’t match any natural element on Earth and isn’t in any science books or websites I’ve looked through. Maybe it’s synthetic…” it only occurred to him at that second that somewhere below the spoil was a wooden coffin with a skeleton in it, but he didn’t want to appear like a wimp about it. He’d never liked any dead things, mummies, devils/demons, spellcasters, or anything creepy like that. He feared them to a point of hatred. It was ironic, since he did not understand others same reaction to him.
She gazed towards the white statue of Mary peacefully holding her palms open as if waiting to embrace the lost, “Maybe it’s a gift from God.”
“Oh boy,” he really didn’t want to get into this kind of conversation. She was too adamant on the subject.
“Think about it. This could all be a part of His plan. What if I was meant to be this? What if I’m supposed to use this to help others in need? What if…”
“Is that how you comfort yourself? Believing in predestination? God has it all planned out for us, so we shouldn’t worry about how things go, its all part of a bigger picture?” He still wasn’t sure what he believed himself, settling for observing others belief systems for now.
“How else would you get through life?” She asked as if it was the only course of action that made sense.
“Hmmm… I’ll get back to you on that later…” He regretted saying that out loud as she launched into a long speech on the value of her religion immediately after. He sat back, blocked out as much as he could, and tried to keep from thinking that a skeleton hand was going to pop up from the ground and grab his leg.
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