Lost in the Woods

Elkay stared at the corpse in front of him. The freshly killed body of a young alogan was sitting there, its guts half-eaten and hanging out, subtly taunting him. Elkay wasn’t sure why he felt the way he did. It wasn’t the act of killing the alogan that was disturbing Elkay, it was the fact that he had killed the alogan as a vicious monster, then eaten its insides raw that was bothering him.

The last few hours had somehow been both a blur and insanely vivid at the same time. He could vividly remember saving the staff from the falling ship, but he couldn’t remember what happened after that. Why had he run away rather than staying with them? And why was he so hungry? Glancing over Elkay’s shoulder sort of answered that question. His body was randomly mutating, as if it was trying to adapt to his environment. Right now, he had an extra set of claws and a pair of stubby wings growing out of his back, and Elkay’s feet were now much bigger and webbed, presumably so he could walk easier on the marshy ground.

What bothered Elkay right now though was that he didn’t know where he was. His best guess was the forested areas of northern Hertany, but northern Hertany was quite a large area. And since it was both rather cloudy and getting dark, Elkay had no sense of direction either.

How did he even get to that clearing anyway? Elkay was still covered in that horrible, slightly corrosive goo, but there didn’t seem to be any leading in or out of the clearing. Had Elkay FLOWN to there? He must have. But he had no memory of it. He would have much preferred having no memory of tearing that alogan apart like a savage beast, but there was little Elkay could do about that.

He couldn’t stay there though. This was a clearing for a reason. Water had recently run through here, and if it began to rain, water would come through again anyway. There was another clearing to his right though, slightly uphill. That would at least be safer from any flash flooding.

Leaving the alogan corpse behind, Elkay got up and started making his way over to the new clearing. As he did so, he started thinking up plans. His first idea was to simply try and find where the shuttle had crashed and hope that there were still vok nearby. But that wouldn’t work now that it was getting dark, there was no way to know where Elkay had originally come from.

Walking out of there and finding the nearest village was probably a better idea. The area was sparse but not empty. A village would have food and supplies and communication. All he needed to do was wait until morning and work out which way was south. His other plan was to try and call for attention. He could set a fire, perhaps find something reflective to try and get attention from above. North Hertany was covered in flight paths, surely someone would notice him?

Without warning, Elkay found himself slipping on some particularly wet undergrowth. He skidded into a puddle, absolutely soaking himself. Elkay cursed loudly, realising that now he had a risk of hypothermia as well. As if he needed any more problems. Amazingly though, Elkay felt something happening. Fur began to grow across his body, warming Elkay up. The claws on his back turned into feathered tails, wrapping over his shoulders to preserve warmth.

Sighing, Elkay picked himself up. But as he did so, he noticed something else. His reflection in the water. He stopped and stared at the reflection, his eyes widening in horror. While the reflection may have been murky, it did little to disguise the monster that Elkay had become.

It took genuine effort to pull himself away from the water. The fact that it was getting colder and darker was what did it. Elkay made his way over to the new, drier clearing, then started building himself a fire. There weren’t enough materials nearby to build a shelter, but his third pair of arms decided to grow into long, slender limbs with thin skin attached, creating a small shelter from the incoming rain.

Thankfully, the fire didn’t take long to build. It wasn’t very large, but Elkay didn’t really care. He sat in front of it but didn’t give it any attention. Elkay’s mind was repeatedly drawn back to the puddle and what he had seen. Even as exhaustion crept in, Elkay remained fixated on the image of his new self.

Whatever Elkay was now, he wasn’t a Rethan any more.