Sitting on her chair at school, Phantyne twisted her untamable straw blonde hair into a ringlet. Couldn’t classes be a little bit more challenging? An unprecedented announcement broke her daydream session.
“All students are to come to the library for genetic testing. Because of a new scientific breakthrough, this is government mandated. No exceptions. Thankyou.” Students began to mill about, wondering why, but none of them seemed particularly suspicious. Did they have any idea how conspiratorial nationwide genetic testing is!
A military personnel escorted Phantyne’s class to the library where a ominous person waited for them in a white bodysuit. The military escort seized a person and took them to a chair. The person in the bodysuit plunged a long ominous needle in their arm, counted to ten, and removed the needle. A relieving green light flashed and the military escort took the next person. Soon it was Phantyne’s turn and the needle plunged into her arm. But the green light didn’t turn on.
Phantyne awoke in a white room with no windows. She was cleitherophobic, a fear of being trapped, and xenophobic, fear of the unknown. Being trapped in a room without knowing why she was there was enough to send her into a raging panic attack. Phantyne was so distressed that she didn’t notice wings sprouting out of her back, growing fur, fingernails curling into claws and gaining a tail. After an hour or so of lividity, exhaustion took over and she collapsed to the floor panting. A woman in a formal outfit flanked by two guards came in. The guards gripped their weapons as the woman spoke.
“Phantyne Thunderclaw, you have been tested positive for a genetic mutation that allows you to transform into a mythical creature that best represents your personality. Look at yourself and you will find that I speak the truth.” Phantyne looked down and noticed her skin was sleekly golden furred and a slender porcupine tail arched out of her rear. A majestic pair of leathery midnight dragon wings were at her sides. Her bodice was that a lion. She was the size of a horse. The Woman continued “It seems that you are a manticore from Greek mythology. In times of strong emotion you will turn from one form to the other. We will perform tests on you for the sake of better understanding your peculiar condition” She said the word ‘condition’ like it was a disease. The Woman turned and walked out of the room. Phantyne came to her senses just as the door was closing. She leaped and clawed the door open.
Freedom called to her just beyond her reach. One of the guards fired a taser at her. She barely felt its sting and swiped the weapon out of his hands before he could fire another shot. Swishing her spiked tail, she marveled at the power she encompassed. Three long quills stuck out of the other guard. The guard collapsed to the floor before she could finish the fight. Strange, thought Phantyne, the quills are venomous. Stretching her wings taut, she kicked off the floor. The corridors were just big enough for her to fly in.
Unfortunately, as Phantyne made her escape, her wingtip struck an alarm. The unearthly sound of sirens filled the facility, causing extreme pain to her now sensitive ears. On the upside, the echoes gave her a sense of how big the place was. Approximately the size of ten football fields. The air currents were heading in a specific direction, tickling her whiskers as it rushed by. Flapping harder to beat the incoming reinforcements and escape this morbid prison. Phantyne burst into a communal room that arched high over her feline head. The faint wind blew towards a vent that was three metres in circumference. Vents had to go somewhere in this world. She hooked her talons between the bars and pulled with all her tremendous might.
With a sound of breaking mortar, the grate fell back, right on top of Phantyne. She let out a squawk of surprise. The reinforcement squad had arrived, armed with tranquilizers and other non-lethals. In an instant, she threw off the grate and hurled it at her captors. A volley of poisonous spikes soon followed. Luckily, while she was at school and living a normal life, she was the queen of dodgeball. Using her techniques, she kept moving to give them a harder time aiming at her. Soon they had all succumbed to her quills and lay on the concrete floor twitching She seized the opportunity and climbed into the hole left by the bars.
Phantyne saw green forest and tall evergreens. Liberty at last. She breathed in and relished the scent of the pines. After looking back once and spotting a helicopter, she skedaddled in the opposite direction. The feel of air gliding beneath her wing membrane was quite soothing. When her shoulders began to burn and her wingbeats were more choppy, she landed in a sheltered clearing. The little meadow kept from view. Safety was hers now that hundreds of kilometres were between her and her captors. Now, time to become human again. She willed her wings and tails to disappear, her body to shrink, and fur to shed. Nothing happened. Frustrated, she tried again, but to no avail. The powerful form that was her salvation was now a prison more impossible to escape than the one she had fled. Ensnared in herself.