The Halloween season has come again, and Dr. Callyco is back with thirteen new tales for the season of spooks. For our first tale we bring in our guests Lockely, who runs into a little computer problem.
Meanwhile at the lair of Dr. Callyco.
“MURDER!” The kitten in a lab coat shouted at the top of his lungs as he stood atop his cardboard castle while lightning struck outside. “Okay, not really murder. But, someone did something. We’ll get to that. But, it’s October, and you know what that means, it’s time for another set of Thirteen Tales! And do I have some interesting ones for you this year. Oh, some of you may be wondering where Dr. Cutie Pup is. Well…” The kitten held up a paw where a small gray mouse was sitting in it.
“Squeak.” The mouse spoke.
“Some dastardly villain has turned Dr. Cutie Pup into a mouse! It’s a mystery!” Dr. Callyco exclaimed. “Who could possibly have done this to him?”
“Squeak.” Dr. Cutie Pup gave the kitten a look.
“But that brings us to the theme. This year, everyone is a victim and a culprit. But who is the culprit that causes the transformation in each story? That’s for you to guess. I’ll reveal the answers after the month ends. But for now, pay attention to the cause of the transformation and what they turn into, those are your biggest hints on who did it.”
“Squeak.” Dr. Cutie Pup tapped a paw impatiently against the kitten’s paw.
“You’re right, we should introduce the first tale and victim. Up first, we have Lockely. He’s a fox whose pretty good with tech, which is good since he finds himself working in tech support. Yet, despite how knowledgeable he is about electronics he’s about to encounter something he can’t explain. I bring you our first tale. The Tale of the Fun Personality Quiz.”
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of the Fun Personality Quiz
It was a slow day at work for Lockely. The orange speckled fox was dressed in the business casual mandated by the company, as well as wearing a long scarf and a pair of glasses. He, like so many others, worked in a cubicle farm in a large room full of identical working spaces. Lockely had taken the time to personalize his own space just to be rid of the monotony of the gray walls and white desks. A model starship from one of his favorite shows sat next to his computer, and a few posters and symbols from other Sci-Fi shows had been hung up on the walls. They were small touches, but they made the place more bearable.
Lockely was in the tech support queue. A lot of his calls were over pretty quickly after he asked if they had turned their device off and back on yet. It wasn’t completely abnormal to have days where he got off calls quick and then had long periods of time between calls. Today though was ridiculously slow. It wasn’t that Lockely enjoyed talking to customers, but it was something to do. It had been over thirty minutes since his last call and Lockely had been trying to pass the time just playing with a few pencils on his desk. He was exceptionally bored. Which is likely why when an e-mail popped into his inbox he didn’t notice the sender’s e-mail, only the title.
‘What Mythical Creature Are You?’
“Great another one.” Lockely sighed. He was not unused to these e-mails popping up. Someone in the office was always bored enough to be surfing the internet to find a random meme or quiz or whatever random thing grabbed their attention. They sent it to a few friends, who in turn sent it to a few more friends and eventually everyone in the office but the boss had a copy of it. Most of these, Lockely just deleted without looking at them. Aside from the fact that they were just time wasters there was the fact that company policy had forbidden the use of the internet for anything unrelated to company business.
But, he knew that wasn’t actually being enforced. And right now, as long as it had been since his last call, he made the decision that finding a way to waste time was in fact company business anyway. He clicked the link in the e-mail and was brought to the web page.
And promptly had to avert his gaze momentarily as the page just had way too much going on. A sparkling background, different lines of text broken up into several different colors, and jazzy music playing in the background. Thank goodness Lockely was fortunate enough that his headset was connected to a computer rather than straight to a phone, and so the music was only blasted at him instead of the entire office. He quickly muted the web site and looked over it, almost in awe.
“It’s like a GeoCities web site.” Lockely felt like an archaeologist, having just dug up some kind of ancient artifact just staring at the site. He quickly glanced up at the URL just to make sure he hadn’t somehow traveled back in time. The URL as long, like ridiculously so, but there was neither ‘Geocities’ or ‘Angelfire’ listed anywhere in it. This was a modern-day web site, at least in terms of when it was created. Someone must have just really liked those old aesthetics or something. Lockely shook his head and turned his attention to the actual quiz. No calls had come in yet so he might as well start it now.
Lockely took a sip of coffee and scrolled down to the actual test. It was an interactive flash animation. There were a bunch of tiny, animated creatures, ranging from dragons to tiny faeries flying around in random patterns on the screen and a large button in the center that said ‘Begin.’ After observing this Lockely decided he needed another sip of coffee before he could continue. Then he finally clicked the begin button. The animated creatures all vanished from the screen as the flash animation took on a more subdued appearance. Suddenly, it was just a plain dark green background with white text. One question was displayed with a box for Lockely to write in his answer.
‘What is your name?’
“Hmmm.” Lockely considered entering an alias here. A lot of these web sites did these quizzes just as a means of collecting data. However, there wasn’t much they could do with just a first name, and if they asked for anything more personal, he’d just close it out. He took another sip of coffee and went ahead and typed his name in. After hitting enter the sparkly background on the web site lit up brighter for a moment. And then the next question popped up.
‘Do you wish you could fly?’
“Sure, why not?” Lockely clicked on the yes button. His mind was already picking the formula apart in his head. He was pretty sure he just eliminated several different creatures without wings from the list. Next, it’d probably ask him if he wished he could breathe fire, or his favorite element.
‘Did you think the next question was going to be something about like do you want to breathe fire or your favorite element?’
“Wait what?” Lockely almost spit up his next sip of coffee. Almost. It would take something life shattering to make ever make him actually waste a single drop. After a pause he let out a very small laugh. “Alrigiht, I’ll admit it that one got me.” He selected yes.
‘Yup. We sure did.’
“Wha?” Lockely tilted an ear sideways in confusion.
‘Oh sorry, that wasn’t a question. Was fun to see the look on your face though. Or would be were this not a program and someone who could actually watch. Moving on. What’s your favorite color?’
“Someone’s messing with me.” Lockely sat back in his chair. The thing was he wasn’t sure how. But the quiz had known his exact reactions. Perhaps if someone knew him really well they could have guessed his reactions and pre-programmed it but that seemed unlikely. There was no web camera attached to his computer so there couldn’t be anyone watching him. Lockely stood up and looked over the wall of his cubicles looking around to see if he could spot anyone watching him. If someone in the office was playing a prank they couldn’t have known his thoughts but might have guessed his general reaction from his body language. No one was watching him, well at least at first. Now a lot of people were watching him since he was standing up glancing around. He sat down. Well, whoever was messing with him, he wasn’t going give the satisfaction of showing a reaction.
Beyond what he had already done. He reached for his mug of coffee to calm his nerves only to find it empty.
“Lovely.” Lockely let out a sigh. Well there was one way to get to the bottom of this pretty quickly. Just check who the e-mail was from. He tabbed back over to his inbox and checked the sender. It wasn’t from anyone at work. And whoever sent it was someone who had apparently set up their own server. MagicQuiz@BrighterDays.com. Someone thought they were clever. It was at this point he nearly slapped himself. One of the most basic computer safety measures was don’t click on strange links from e-mail addresses you don’t know. There was now a very real chance Lockely’s computer was infected with some form of malware. He checked the tab with the quiz again.
‘Soooo picked out that favorite color yet?’ The text had updated.
“It’s orange.” Lockely mused to himself. Before he could type anything in the message changed.
‘Orange? Oh good choice. It’ll look good on you and match your fur.’
“What?” Lockely tilted his head, then quickly straightened himself trying to look unfazed. But the grip on his mouse tightened to the point where his fox claws left small scratches in the sides of it. Lockely hadn’t typed anything in. It was true he had a microphone attached to his headset but how would the quiz had tapped into that. Either way, he was done with it. Time to close out of this thing and run a malware scan. Lockely clicked the X in the corner of the browser. Nothing happened. He tried Alt F4. Still nothing. He pushed the power button the tower but the PC wouldn’t shut off.
‘The quiz isn’t over yet.’ The text had updated. ‘Just a couple more questions.’
Lockely was concerned to say the least. But there was one guaranteed way to shut the computer down. Then hopefully he could reboot it in safe mode and figure out what was happening. He got down under his desk and unplugged the computer. The desktop didn’t power off. Lockely slowly rose back up to his chair and looked at his monitor.
‘Don’t worry your PC will be back to normal after the quiz. Next question. Lockely. It’s a good name isn’t it? Do you know what we can do with a name like that?’
“I’m about thirty seconds away from finding something to use as a club and destroy this computer.” Lockely growled. He didn’t understand what was going on. He was the tech guy. He worked in tech support. He knew how machines worked. And this. This was not how machines worked.
‘Not really an answer but okay. Last question. Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. But of course technology is easier to believe in than magic since you can understand it. But you seem really confused right now. So here is the final question. Do you think what you are experiencing now is a product of technology or magic?’
“Technology.” Lockely replied without thinking. He wasn’t about to believe in some magical nonsense. “Magic isn’t real.”
‘You’re correct on the first part, not on the second. Anyway, calculations complete. Actually, we’ve known what mythical creature you would be since you gave us your name. Displaying results now.’
“What do you mean now?” Lockely stared at the computer. There was nothing there other than that message. There was no result displayed. And why was he talking to a computer anyway. He growled in frustration but got distracted. There was something wrong with his headset. He reached up a hand to take it off only to have the thing fall right off and landed in his lap. It looked bigger than it should have. And his clothes were starting to get loose on him. Then there was a strange itching on his back.
Lockely stumbled out of his chair in confusion and looked down at himself. His fur was glowing. An orange aura covered his entire body and stayed orange even in places where his fur turned black like his hands. Meanwhile, his pants and underwear slipped right off him and his shirt hung off him loosely. Something was pressing against the back of his shirt. He was also roughly eye level with the surface of his desk. Something was happening to his body; he was getting smaller. As he continued to shrink his shirt, scarf and glasses fell off leaving him naked, but finally exposing what was happening to his back. Looking over his shoulder he saw that there was a pair of translucent orange wings coming out of his back. As he continued to get smaller it wasn’t hard to figure out what was happening. He was becoming a mythical creature and he knew which one.
He was turning into a faerie.
The top of Lockely’s desk soared higher into the air. A few seconds longer and the changes were complete. He was only a few inches tall, and it felt like his ears and tail had both gotten longer. Then there were the wings of course and the orange aura over his entire body. None of his coworkers had noticed his transformation yet. After all no one of them could see into his cubicle. He wasn’t sure if that was for the better or worse. He was having a hard time processing what happened and how it happened. He paced back and forth on the floor next to his now way too large clothing. He looked up at his desk. Did this ‘quiz’ have anything more to see. He looked over his back at his wings. Was time to see if they worked.
He flapped them and lifted up and flew six inches into the air, a significant distance considering it was the same height as his body when standing now. Then he fell back down. That was right, he probably needed to flap the wings more than once. He didn’t know how to fly. It wasn’t exactly something he ever thought would come up, what with being a fox. Well, he was still a fox at least, just a fox faerie. He experimented flapping at different speeds, lifting into the air but having little control weaving around in the air. After about a minute he stabilized and managed to hover a few inches above the ground. Okay, he was pretty sure he had this down now. Now he could fly to the top of his desk. A few harder flaps, and he was up and landed atop his desk. He looked up at the giant computer monitor hoping for some kind of explanation.
The monitor was black, with the power saving indicator blinking in the bottom right hand corner. Lockely walked over to the mouse and pushed against it to wake up the computer. Nothing happened. Of course nothing happened. He had unplugged his computer and the quiz did say the computer would go back to normal when it was over. There was nothing left to give any kind of explanation. He was just left like this.
“Great.” Lockely muttered. Should he stick around? Ask his coworkers for help? He doubted any of them knew anything about what to do when suddenly transforming into a faerie. He had nothing to go on or even the slightest hint on what he should do now. Then a thought occurred to him. He remembered the last message. He was told he was wrong about magic being fictional. If he was a faerie now, did he have magic?
He held up a hand in the air to try to see if anything would happen. Nothing. He tried snapping his fingers. Still nothing. If he was a faerie he should be magical. But much like flying he had no way to know how to actually do it.
But he had figured out flying. He could figure out this.
Lockely closed his eyes and tried to focus on a specific object. He snapped his fingers, and suddenly a large thread of light appeared around his neck and a mask of light over his face. Both lights solidified, and suddenly the tiny faerie was wearing a tiny scarf and a tiny pair of glasses.
“Okay, was going for the entire outfit but it’s a start.” Lockely looked around. Whatever this was, his coworkers wouldn’t be any help and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be seen like this. Glancing around the room he saw an open window. “Eh. Whatever.”
He took off from the desk and flew for the open window. Hopefully if any of his coworkers saw his movements they would just think they had seen a bug. A very large orange glowing bug. He tried not to think about it as he flew out of the window and into the outdoor world. Once outside he flew higher into the air until he was soaring above the building.
“Heh.” Lockely was still pretty alarmed about this entire affair. But he had to admit that being able to fly was actually really cool. And maybe if he could get this whole magic thing down he could learn to live with he faerie part. But that was going to take a lot of trial and error. Which brought up the question of where to practice this magic? Well, he wasn’t going home to do it. Last thing he wanted to do was accidentally burn the place down with a fire spell. Someplace secluded would work better. After all he had no idea what he was doing.
Maybe he should go search for a forest? Faeries were supposed to live in forests. Was that going to be where he lived now? It was a distinct possibility. Temporary or permanent though he had no idea. If he got the hang of this magic thing he might be able to change himself back to normal. Of course, there was no guarantee that was possible.
For now he set out flying above the city as he headed for its outskirts. There were so many thoughts going through his head right now that he didn’t even know what to focus on first. So for now, he’d just find some place secluded to at least get the hang of how his body worked and maybe start to figure out the magic thing. The city was big though, especially at his size. Could he fly all the way to the outskirts and find a forest to practice in before his body gave way to exhaustion? Well… If he couldn’t make it to a forest he could at least find an alley way or the top of a building, or really there were a lot of options. Heck, since he was a faerie if someone had a birdhouse in a tree outside their home he could hide in one of those to get the hang of things. Living in a birdhouse wasn’t exactly his idea of luxury but having a roof over his head was better than just finding a random tree to live in.
“This is… Going to take some getting used to.” Lockely shook his head as he watched the city fly by beneath him. Part of it still felt unreal, like he might wake up from a dream any moment. But of course, this was real. So for now he continued his flight as he looked for a suitable location to try to start learning magic.