Pandemonium: Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Revelation

I was stunned to silence!
“Sarah, are you okay? I didn’t expect that to shock you so much!” he stood and arched his back in a long stretch, looking straight at me in mild concern.
“Er, I don’t really know what to say. You really have seen so much haven’t you?” I replied,
“Making you feel young again am I?” He joked,
“Hmn, more like inferior, unworthy, stupid.” I looked at him in wonderment.
We sat in silence for a what felt like forever, then Pan broke me from my reverie with a soft paw on the back of my hand, “You’re shaking, Sarah. I could make you tea!” he said eagerly,
“No, no, no! Don’t go changing on my account. I can’t have you parading, naked around the kitchen now can I.” I forced a smile
“Guess not, what would the neighbours think?” he said,
“Probably that I’m some sort of cougar!” I finally laughed at my bad pun and Pan laughed with or at me, “So, this shapeshifting business. Care to explain that one to me?
“Well this is going to sound like a terrible science fiction cliché, but it’s all down to cosmic rays!”
“Yes, that does indeed sound like a really terrible cliché that actually explains nothing!” I responded,
“Well I’ll give you the time-lapse version of history! When our race was still in its infancy, evolution wise, the area of the planet we inhabited was struck by a CME, or coronal mass ejection, from a colossal solar flare. There was huge loss of life from the radiation but those who survived had been irrevocably altered. It would seem that our DNA was almost rewritten. It isn’t stable. In fact not one atom in my body is stable! The electromagnetic effect of the CME caused the atoms to become so agitated our bodies were almost being broken down. Even our very best quantum physicists don’t fully understand this, but somehow the radiation allowed some of our people to contain their bodies despite the constant atomic vibration, the molecular desire to pull apart” He paused, “It’s spoken in our histories that early survivors often had ‘episodes’, almost like a fit, when parts of the body would start to reform, to change state. Liquefying was most common and can’t have been pleasant. By the time humans had moved into our lands there were only small groups of Cats remaining. They lived in scattered communities, still coming to terms with the changes that the species had undergone.”
I realised I was crying, “Oh, Pan, that’s horrific. I know I have a somewhat vivid imagination but I feel as if I witnessed the whole of that!”
“Sorry, I didn’t really mean to fully project that! It’s hard to tell the histories without visualising it.”
“What, that was real? Or, I mean, some kind of dream. What…how…you’re psychic too!” I stammered, “No, no,no, it can’t actually be real. You weren’t there so you can’t remember it to pass it on psychically or whatever it was you think you did!” I had been there; through the shifting times, prairie grasslands and rolling dunes where Cats play, hunt, rest and raise their young. The land is good and temperate, the prey plentiful. I wander, disembodied amongst the tribe. The young are taught the histories by the Aunts and Uncles. The Mothers hunt. The Fathers patrol against infiltration from their wild cousins; Scimitar Tigers, Giant Cheetah and the pack hunting Cave Lion. The Grandfathers contemplate the nature of the world, the meaning of the changing skies. The Grandmothers nurse the dying. The Mystic Dreamers sing to the trees. A peaceful idyll.
Strange lights dance across the night skies, twisting and weaving a mysterious and unearthly web. The youngsters run and leap into the air, pawing at the colourful trails, squealing in delight at the new game. The Dreamers, however, howl in turmoil, twisting in their own dance of uncertainty. The Elders sink low, bellies to the ground, ears flattened and baring teeth at an enemy they can sense yet not see. Birds are gathering in the skies now, flying in erratic formations, losing cohesion, diving, colliding. The noise is monstrous.
The luminescence intensifies with flashes of brilliance that I could not close my eyes too. I wished then that it would blind me yet the vision continued as birds’ feathers began to disintegrate and shrivel; the birds plummeting lifeless to the ground in dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. Twisted blackened corpses carpeting the ground where once brightly feathered flyers graced the skies. The grasses are hissing and twisting as they whither and desiccate across the great plains, kicked up in dust devils sweeping through the killing fields.
Through the dust and debris my minds eyes became witness to horrors on such a scale no human eye has ever seen before. The howls and screams were the testament to the excruciating deaths of Cats and the wildlife under the unforgiving power of the sun.

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